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VOL. I. 





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Often as one sees her name in religious and quasi-religious 
publications, it has appeared to me, that those, who so 
freely use it, for the most part have no acquaintance with 
the Life of Madame Guyon written by herself. For many 
years the English-speaking family has been content to 
depend, for any knowledge of her, on Upham's defective 
and misleading Life, where her catholic spirit appears 
bound in the grave clothes of so-called Evangelical dogma. 
That this should be the case argues ill for the depth of 
religious life in those communities. Piety, doubtless, there 
has been, but of a shallow, superficial character, hardly 
veiling a robust selfhood, which keeps its votaries in 
perpetual movement and fuss, and sends them running 
over the world to pluck the motes out of brothers' eyes, 
forgetful of this great beam in their own. When doctors 
and teachers with some knowledge of her writings do 
seriously mention her name, it is without exception 
apologetically and in a tone of patronizing superiority, 
which shows how much they have to learn both about 
themselves and her. 

Putting aside for the moment all consideration of her 


heavenly exaltation, it may yet be seen, when the secrets 
of world hi>!tory are opened up, that her role as forerunner 
of the moral and spiritual upheaval, which politically 
presents itself as the French Revolution, was no unim- 
portant one. The spiritual light which shone out from her 
through the darkness of France was not extinguished by 
her persecution ; and it may well be that to the latent 
unperceived working of that divine influence of which for 
a time she was the channel we owe the profound change 
which distinguishes modern Europe from its preceding 
ages. Perhaps George Sand's dying monk was not in 
error when he hailed the overthrow of the altar at whose 
foot he was killed by the preachers of Liberie, Erfalite, 
et Fraternite, as the opening of the Spirit's reign he had 
BO long sighed for. 

No complete translation of Madame Guyon's auto- 
biography has, apparently, ever been published, in 
English. Of those in the British Museum library the 
fullest is an abridged translation, published at Bristol, by 
subscription, in 1772. A couple of years later, in Dublin, 
appeared an edition which differs from the above much as 
the Gospel of St. John differs from the Synoptics ; but the 
Bristol translation has remained the foundation of all that 
has since appeared. For whatever claim to originality 
Upham in his most unsatisfactory Life puts forward, it 
is evident, from his reproducing the very mistakes of the 
Bristol translator, that he depended on him wholly. Quite 
recently the Bristol translation has been still further 
abridged, in a small volume published at Philadelphia in 

Now, an autobiography such as that of Madame Guyon 


cannot be abridged without losing much of what constitutes 
its peculiar charm and power for those who can appreciate 
it. As well clip the floating sprays and delicate twigs, with 
all their tender green leaves, from a beech tree, until it 
stands up a mere exaggerated broom of dry, stiff branches ! 
So the abridged autobiography becomes a tasteless 
narrative of events, while the spiritual perfume and unction 
that breathe from the original phrases, and even apparent 
repetitions, entirely disappear. It is to breathe and drink 
in something of her spirit that one seeks the company of 
such a writer. In the translation which I now offer to the 
public I know I render her meaning. I hope I have been 
able to preserve her spirit, so that readers who are com- 
pelled to know her only through a translation may not be 
serious losers. For it has been to me a labour of love. 
Commenced as an occupation to fill up leisure hours in the 
Indian hot weather, the attraction of the work grew, and I 
could realize how far-reaching are the principles of religion 
enunciated and illustrated in her life. For that which 
shines forth with such an extraordinary lustre in her life 
is the same Light of which Eastern sages had caught a 
fleeting glimpse, and which they sought to bring down to 
the comprehension of their disciples. But in the East, as 
in the West, the materializing and externalizing tendencies 
of human nature rapidly made themselves felt, and the 
true Nirvana, where only the self-centre is lost that the 
Divine Spirit may take its place and make man, as 
originally intended, a form to express the Divine Love and 
Wisdom, was forgotten, and hidden away from the vulgar 
in a teaching which, at the present day, seems to point 
to total individual annihilation. The French traveller 


Bernier, who bad spent several j'cars in India at the 
Mogul Emperor's court, shortly before his death in 1688, 
incited thereto by the noise the affair of Moliuos was 
making in France, produced from his old Indian note-books 
a memoir on the Quietism of India. This was published 
in October, 1688, six weeks after his death. He writes : 
" Among the different fakirs or pagan rcUcjieux there are 
those who are called Jogees — that is to say, saints, 
illumines, perfect, or perfectly united to the Sovereign 
Being — to the First and General Principle of all things. 
They are people who appear to have totally renounced the 
world, and who ordinarily withdraw into some secluded 
garden, like hermits, with a few disciples, who, modest and 
submissive, are only too happy to listen to them and serve 
them. If food is brought them they receive it ; if they are 
forgotten, it is said, they do without it, and that they live 
by the grace of heaven in fasts and perpetual austerities, 
and are sunk in contemplation ; I say, sunk (ahimes), for 
they enter so deeply therein, that, it is said, they pass 
whole hours ravished and in ecstasy. Their external senses 
appear totally inert, and they maintain that they see the 
Sovereign Being, as a living and indescribable Light, with 
a joy and satisfaction inexpressible, which is followed by a 
contempt and total detachment from the world. Now here 
is the basis of the sect and the secret and mystery of the 
Kabala, which I discovered only with great trouble and 
artifice. Their ancient books teach that the First Principle 
of things is altogether admirable, and that he is something 
very pure (these are their own terms), very clear, and very 
subtle ; that he is infinite, and can be neither engendered 
nor corrupted ; that he is the perfection of all things, 


sovereignly perfect, and (what is to be remarked) in perfect 
repose, in absolute inaction — in a word, in a perfect 
Quietism : for they hold that, being the origin and source of 
all virtue, of all understanding, and all power (these are 
still their terms), he has not, however, in himself either 
virtue, understanding, or power ; that, on the contrary, the 
property and sovereign perfection of his essence is to move 
nothing, to understand nothing, to apprehend nothing (rien 
agiter, rien entendre, rien apprendre). For this reason, 
whoever desires to be perfect, and to live happily and well, 
must by a continual contemplation and victory over him- 
self use all possible efforts to become similar to his 
Principle, so that, having subdued and entirely extinguished 
all human passions, he may be troubled or tormented 
by nothing, and, after the manner of an ecstatic, entirely 
absorbed in profound contemplation, he may happily enjoy 
this Divine Repose, or Quietism, the happiest state of life 
one can wish." ^ 

Two thousand years before Bernier, the Greeks of 
Alexander's army had much the same to tell of the 
Gymnosophists of India — whence doubtless the hermits of 
Egypt imported their ideas and practices. The Mussul- 
man mystics of Persia, of whom some account is to be 
found in Henry Martyn's Life, but the fullest information 
in a recent book, Browne's "Year Among the Persians," 
have evidently been fluttering round the same principle. 
This latest traveller has the rare merit of trying to 
study his subject as a disciple from within, rather than as 
a critic from outside ; and we have to thank him for a 

• See Max Miiller's " Real Mabatma " iu the Nineteenth Century, Aug. 
1896, for accovint of a modern Jogee. 


translation from the Babi poetess, Karrat-ul-Ayn, in which 
occur the following lines : — 

" The country of ' I ' and ' We ' forsake ; 
Thy home in Annihilation make : 
Since, fearing not this step to take. 
Thou shalt gain the highest felicity." ' 

In no dim or uncertain way, though superficially, the 
mystic of India and of Persia has seen that the " Self- 
hood," that which makes each man regard himself as the 
centre of the universe, and look out upon this universe 
solely in relation to, and as supplying nourishment for, 
the self-centre — what Goethe calls das verdamnte Ich, — is 
the source of all human troubles, so that true happiness 
can be reached only by the annihilation of this " Self- 
hood." Then, centred on and animated by the Divine 
Spirit, man shall resume his original and proper place, as 
a finite expression of Divine Love and Wisdom. 

It is the same truth essentially, but with the clearer light 
thereon shed by Christ's life and sacrifice with its con- 
sequence, the help of the indwelling Paraclete, that this 
autobiography sets forth and illustrates ; and thus we see 
how true are Law's words, " There is but one salvation for 
aU mankind, and that is the Life of God in the Soul. God 
has but one design or intent towards all mankind, and 
that is to introduce or generate his own Life, Light, and 
Spirit in them, that all may be so many Images, Temples, 

' In Vaughan's " Hours with the Mystics " will be found a few extracts 
from Sufi poets ; but the criticisms of this author, redolent of the " wisdom 
of the deu," can be accepted by no serious truth-seeker. Reason, however 
apt in guessing the sequences and relations of the images reflected in the 
intclloct— that mirror of the jwycM, — can never grasp the realities of spirit 


and Habitations of the H0I3' Trinity. This is God's good 
will to all Christians, Jews, and Heathens. They are all 
equally the desire of his heart ; his Light continually 
waits for an entrance into all of them ; his Wisdom 
crieth, she putteth forth her voice, not here or there, but 
everywhere, in all the streets of all the parts of the World. 
There is but one possible way for man to attain this 
Salvation or Life of God in the Soul. . . . and that is, the 
Desire of the Soul turned to God. . . . 

" Suppose this desire to be awakened, and fixed upon 
God, though in souls that never heard either of the Law or 
Gospel, and then the divine Life, or operation of God, 
enters into them, and the New Birth in Christ is formed in 
those that never heard of His name. And these are 
they that shall come from the East and from the West 
and sit down with Abraham and Isaac in the Kingdom 
of God." 1 

In the narrative of Madame Guyon's life are many 
abnormal incidents which were omitted or softened down 
by the translator of 1772, doubtless through regard for 
Protestant prejudices ; yet in John Wesley's Journals may 
be found several not very dissimilar. It is to be hoped 
that readers of the present day will, thanks to the study of 
the occult and the recognition of psychical phenomena by 
large numbers, bring a more open intelligence to the 
perusal. Numbers, no doubt, will dismiss all such as pure 
hallucinations, that convenient word which, with hysterics, 
covers so much pretentious medical and philosophical 
ignorance ; but each one will attribute to them just so 
much credit as his previous education has prepared him to 

» " Spirit of Prayer," part i. 97-99. 


afford.^ 1 do not feel called upon to endeavour to extend 
that education, but on two matters I venture to suggest 
some explanations which may perhaps lessen bond fide 
difficulties for candid readers. I mean the terrible seven 
years of darkness, and the strange suffering she experienced 
from Father La Combe's infidelities and waverings. 

Throughout, Madame Guyon regards man, as the 
Latin Church generally does, as composed of soul and 
body ; but in St. Paul we find man described as body, 
soul (psyche), and spirit {pncuma) — a threefold being. 
Yet she constantly speaks of her " fond " — a word which 
I have translated as "the central depth." This doubtless 
represents the inmost essence and centre of the pneuma. 
Now, while we exist on this physical plane, the operations 
of the spirit (pneuma) are concealed from us by the 
limitations the psyche and body impose, and it is only the 
result of those operations, having come to birth as a fait 
accompli, which rises into consciousness. Thus we are 
spared much suffering, and, in fact, are like children who are 
trusted only with blunted tools while learning their use. 
The pain and stress of our struggles on this stage are there- 
fore less than they must be for those who, having laid aside 
the body, enter upon the psychic stage of existence with 
the selfhood in full sway. But for Madame Guyon, even 
whUe existing still in the body, the operations of the 
pneuma were, I conceive, fully perceptible, not merely as 
results accomplished, but as struggles and tortures in 

' The caudiii reader, however, will admit as a permissible hypothesis, that 
the faHhiouable opinious of this century in t-cience or melaphysic may not be 
a complete measure of Reality. Where, then, Madame Guyon's story clashes 
therewith, the explanation may possibly be found, not in her inaccuracy, but 
in their inadequacy. 


progress towards results. Thus in her years of darkness 
she experienced the continued process of destruction and 
gradual mortification of that selfhood, which, drawn away 
from every earthly object by the raptures of the Divine 
Love already poured into her, was yet nourishing itself 
from this food as a new form of spiritual selfhood. This 
danger and the necessary course of remedy are largely 
discussed by St. John of the Cross in " The Obscure Night 
of the Soul." 

In the same way, after the intimate spiritual union with 
Father La Combe, all the movements of his spirit (pneuma) 
were perceptible to her as movements of her own pneuma ; 
but that pneuma of hers was now identical with the 
Spirit of the Saviour living in her ; thus, by the infidelity of 
Father La Combe, resisting and, as it were, pulling against 
the Saviour's attraction, her spirit was torn in different 
directions. Much that might otherwise seem difficult and 
obscure in what she tells will perhaps thus become in- 
telligible, by recognizing that, after her consummation in 
Unity with the Saviour, she enjoyed a distinct and full 
perception of the operations of her spirit while actually in 
progress. The tremendous vivacity of these we ordinary 
persons, in our present state, can form no conception of. 
To this contrast it is probable our Saviour alludes when he 
says, "If ye have not been faithful in that which is least, 
who will commit to your charge true riches ? " How can 
you be trusted with your full-edged tools, while you show 
yourselves so maladroit or mischievous with the blunt 
ones lent you for practice ? For it is never to be forgotten 
that man is essentially pneuma, temporarily compelled to 
manifest its life and activity through the limitations of 


psyche and body. Those who, on the death of the body, 
continue an existence under the limitations of the psyche, 
in a universe related thereto, as our physical universe is 
related to our physical organs, must yet, after a time, part 
with that also, and enter, as pure pneuma, upon the eternal 
inheritance they have chosen for themselves — either a life 
of ravishing and triumphant joy with bliss indescribable, 
in a society where, Self extinguished, each one continually 
realizes and manifests forth with an infinite variety 
some ever new phase and aspect of the Divine Nature, with 
its endless perfections, in a harmony so perfect that the 
happiness of each is the joy of all, and the happiness of 
all is the joy of each one ; with capacities ever expanding 
and deepening to receive more, and to sink down further 
into the bottomless depths of the Saviour's Heart ; at the 
Source to drink more fully of the Light which lives there as 
all-attracting Love, incessantly breaking forth in streams 
of blessing, peace, and joy, while he imparts himself to all 
who will receive : — or a life in the coldness, darkness, and 
isolation of an all-devouring Selfhood, which no ray of 
heavenly Light can penetrate, or of Love warm ; where the 
Creature, having entirely and permanently separated 
himself from God, is shut up in the poverty of his own 
covetousness, envy, pride, and wrath, raging in fury and 
madness, to experience the contradictory workings and 
self-torturings of mere Desire, unsatisfied and insatiable — 
an Extremity of Want. 

Wide indeed of the truth has the Protestant world 
wandered, wlien it can accept with such eagerness, as a 
solution of difiiculties, " Natural Law in the Spiritual 
World." Pseudo-science, having, as it fancies, dethroned 


God from all control of the Physical Universe, and set up iu 
his place two fetishes,^ has, it seems, gotten itself baptized 
and adopted into the Christian system, and crude 
generalizations of imperfectly observed and half-under- 
stood physical sequences are accepted as capable of 
explaining the mysteries of spiritual existence. More 
hopeful it would be to try to explain the vital activities 
and living tissues of an oyster from a microscopic examina- 
tion of the lime particles in its shell. Swedenborg, a 
true man of science, one of the most eminent of his time, 
endeavoured to show how spiritual law underlies and 
rules the phenomena of the physical world, and a still 
profounder insight into the mystery of the origin of matter 
may be found in Law's " Spirit of Love." Illumined and 
guided by the light of Boehme, he shows how matter and 
its laws are the outward manifestation, on the physical 
plane, of the essential contrarieties of working in spiritual 
desire — the torment of spiritual nature, left to itself and 
working on and in itself (as was never intended), divorced 
from God ; to manifest forth whose glories alone, as their 
vehicle, it had come into existence with the one qualifica- 
tion thereto of being in itself an extremity of want. 

However much there may be in this autobiography to 
startle the narrow rationalism of Protestant sects, those 
of her own Communion, who have made themselves 
acquainted with the writings of St. John of the Cross, and 

' The present age was lately characterized, by a speaker at the British 
Association, as " drunken with writing." Could a better illustration ofier 
than the popular acceptance as efficient causes of two mere phrases : the one — 
Natural Selection — a contradiction in terms ; the other — Survival of the 
Fittest— when stripped of the ambiguity in the word " fittest," a platitude 
as rank as Moliere's explanation of opium effects. Doubtless the chief claim 
on the scientist's adoration lies in the lurking suggestion of Atheism. 

VOL. I. h 


the life and letters of St. Catharine of Sienna, must be 
well aware that these canonized saints more than bear 
out all which Madame Guyon relates and expounds, and, 
were it not for her own explanation and the further 
evidence of political intrigue, which is brought out in 
Cardinal Bausset's Life of Fenelon, and St. Simon's 
Memoirs, it might well be wondered why such obloquy 
was piled upon a person so perfectly saintly, according to 
the accepted standards. But all spiritual independence 
had left the Gallican Church. Domineered by the King, 
himself controlled by Madame de Maintenon, a mere tool 
in the hands of her director, it lent itself to the suppression 
of truth, and not only countenanced, but assisted in the 
scandalous political pressure which the French King 
brought to bear on the Pope and his Court, to force a 
condemnation of Molinos, and later of Fenelon, which 
otherwise could never have been procured. It would seem 
as if, for the second time, being offered the choice between 
darkness and light, this Church deliberately, and with the 
approval of the mass of the French people, chose darkness. 
The Nemesis was not long delayed. The Revolution of 
1789 swept away at one stroke the faithless Church, whose 
candlestick had been previously removed, and the French 
people are still expiating their fathers' indifference to 
truth, by which was rendered possible, the massacres of 
Huguenots, revocation of the Edict of Nantes, suppression 
of Port Royalists, and persecution of Fenelon and Madame 
Guyon. In her writings spiritual religion offered itself to 
their consideration in no strange garb, but within the 
recognized forms of the Roman Communion, and every 


element clothed in the approved and sanctioned doctrines 
of long canonized saints. 

From that catastrophe all Europe is now profiting ; for 
the Apocalyptic beast of Ecclesiastical Domination received 
thereby his death stroke, and though we are still under 
the seducing influences of the three unclean spirits who 
had their birth in it, — Democracy, which says boldly, 
Authority comes from below, not from above ; Materialism, 
declaring the lusts of the flesh the only source of 
happiness; Analysis, falsely called Science, which seeks 
the solution of the mysteries of Life by going further and 
further from the Centre and Source of Life ; — yet none of 
these can operate save by deceiving : the cruel coercive 
tyranny of Ecclesiasticism is at an end for ever. Without 
the support and ignorant bigotry of the laity it never 
could have prevailed. 

The anonymous writer of a discourse prefixed to some 
copies of her Life, thus introduces Madame Guyon to his 
readers : — 

'* I had read many spiritual books of undoubted value, 
and I had collected one hundred and thirty folio volumes 
of the most esteemed Fathers of the Church. God forbid 
I should refuse them the tribute of veneration which is 
their due, but I nowhere found Madame Guyon or her 
writings. How happy should I esteem myself, dear 
reader, if my example could serve you as a compass ! It is 
forty years since I had the happiness, decisive for me, of 
becoming acquainted with her divine writings. That 
epoch of my life shall be for ever blessed. What was not 
my astonishment to see an order of verities so new for me ! 
At first I understood very little, for want of that poverty of 


Bpirit so necessary to receive the kingdom of God and his 
eternal truth. On the contrary, my brain was furnished 
with those opinions which amuse the children of men, 
with those academic doctrines with which grave Divines 
fill their nurselings, and which they are not ashamed to 
call true knowledge. However, in spite of the blindness 
to which I had been brought by those common principles, 
barren for the mind and puffing up the heart, which I took 
for indubitable, the sweet and penetrating unction shed 
forth from all the holy writings of Madame Guyon, that 
character of truth which is its own proof, that chain of 
connected doctrine, that sublime truth always tinctured 
and tempered in the love of God, which is its end, — that 
divine magic attracted me and seized hold of me ; rays 
of light pierced the denseness of my soul ; a secret fire 
warmed, softened the hardness of my heart. Gradually 
my horizon grew clearer ; my heart, I say, took fire, and 
the Light of Life melted insensibly its ice. Then I saw 
clearly that I had understood nothing in our holy books, 
but the little which is accessible to reason, which in divine 
things is for man only an additional source of blindness. 
Then the contradictions it finds there were completely 
removed, and a new, pure light of day raised me to the idea 
of that Christianity of which most men have scarcely the 
most elementary notion, far from conceiving its spirit." 

The present translator did not derive his conception of 
Christianity from Madame Guyon, but drew directly from 
the Source, yet would he add his tribute of veneration to 
all that has been said of her by the writer quoted ; for 
who can approach this divinely fed fountain w^ith a genuine 
thirst, and fail to receive refreshment as from a draught of 


living water ? The Spirit of the Saviour, who alone lived 
in her, and for over thirty years, after having so perfected 
her that her natural and proper dwelling-place was among 
those dazzling white-robed ones of the highest heaven, 
that had come out of great tribulation, seen by the Apostle 
John, yet retained her on earth ; not for any further purifi- 
cation, but that He might give to men, in these modern 
days, an example and illustration of a life truly hid with 
Christ in God; — the self-same Spirit still breathes forth from 
her record, and penetrates the heart of the reader who will 
cultivate that simplicity of mind, that docility of the little 
child, which is the first essential to being taught of God. 
For the superior person, the self-satisfied critic, it must 
prove a stone of stumbling. Such a one may need some 
centuries of providential education, with its many crushing 
experiences, before Pride shall be so broken as to let fall 
the barrier of the Will — that only obstacle throughout all 
the Universe which can permanently resist the Will of 
God : but unless he be a most perverse, obstinate son of 
perdition, the time will come ; for it is difficult to baffie the 
resources of Divine Wisdom animated by Divine Love. 
Then he will have a right understanding of what Madame 
Guyon was. 

The writer of the discourse alluded to above, himself 
apparently a Roman Catholic, does not hesitate to call 
Madame Guyon the Apostle of our times, and to claim for 
her a place next to the Virgin Mary, above all canonized 
saints. It is a subject for wonder as well as regret that 
Protestantism should have regarded her with such cold- 
ness, and should have preferred, above that spiritual life 
from God and in God, a self-complacent intellectualism 


fast losing itself in rationalism, agnosticism, and 
atheistic pessimism. For Madame Guyon belongs to no 
Church, or sect, or nationality. Stripped of the purely 
accidental, due to her education and surroundings, 
her life illustrates the catholic, universal doctrine pro- 
claimed by Christ, and true for Christian, Jew, and 
Heathen, that " God is a Spirit, and they who worship 
him must worship in spirit and in truth " — thus further 
defined and emphasized by St. Paul, " I live, yet not I, 
Christ lives in me " — the creature, nothing : Christ, all. 

The work here translated was published at Cologne in 
1720, less than three years after Madame Guyon's decease, 
which took place on June 9, 1717, under the title of " La 
Vie de Madame J. M. B. de la Mothe Guion, ecrite par 
elle-meme." According to ** La Nouvelle Biographie," the 
correct spelling is Guyon. Her husband, very wealthy, 
was son to the engineer who had constructed the canal of 
Briare, for which work apparently he had been ennobled, 
while her family name of Bouvieres de la Mothe shows 
her to have been noble by birth. 

This narrative, commenced under the orders of her 
spiritual director, and meant originally only for his eye, 
was wTitten before and during her first imprisonment, in 
the year 1688, but subsequently continued, and finally 
revised in 1709. The remarkable words in chap, viii., 
part iii., however, show that she early foresaw that it 
would eventually be made public. How this publication 
came about is explained by the original editor in his 

Attention having been attracted, both in Germany and 
England, to the violent proceedings against Fenelon, whose 


position as Archbishop of Cambrai had doubtless made 
him well known to numerous officers in the allied armies, 
curiosity was aroused to learn all particulars of the 
controversy, and, going to the root of the matter, certain 
English and German noblemen, not content, our editor tells 
us, with a mere perusal of such of Madame Guyon's writings 
as they had been able to procure, took the opportunity, 
after her release from prison in 1703, to visit her in person. 
** She confided to them the history of her life, written and 
revised by herself, and her intention that it should be 
published when God had withdrawn her from the world. 
The manuscript she entrusted to an English Lord, who 
took it back with him into England, and who has it in his 
possession at this moment. Seeing that God sometime 
ago withdrew its author, in order that there may be no 
further delay in giving effect to her will, I here offer to the 
public that same Life, from a copy carefully compared with 
her original manuscript." 

This positive assertion of the editor (said to be M. Poiret) 
ought to leave no room for doubt as to authenticity ; while 
there is the undoubted fact that an autobiography had been 
written by her, and, under the secrecy of confession, shown 
to and carefully read by Bossuet in 1694. Subsequently, 
in the attack on Quietism which Madame de Maintenon 
employed him to undertake, he drew weapons from this 
autobiography, which in his eagerness for a controversial 
victory, he garbled and caricatured, betraying thus the 
confidence placed in him ; as, indeed, he did also with 
regard to Fenelon and Ranee, the reformer of La Trappe. 

The writer, however, of the article in "La Nouvelle 
Biographic " has thought fit to repeat Bayle's gratuitous 


doubts, and suggests that in its present form the auto- 
biography is a compilation, based on that which he says 
she had made over to the Official of the Archbishop of 
Paris in 1688, and other documents. Now, a reference to 
the work itself will show that this suggestion is baseless : 
she made over no autobiographical papers to the Official, 
and it was subsequent to the surrender of the copies of 
her other writings that much of this autobiography was 

But the reader whose spiritual taste has been cultivated 
and developed will make light of such cavils, and as to 
the genuineness of this autobiography, he will use M. 
Tronson's phrase, "Je le sens bien." He can discern 
between the didactic style of a M. Poiret — whose ideas, 
originating in and moulded by intellect, appeal to intellect 
— and the spontaneous outflow from the heart, not tied 
together by a logical sequence, or woven into ratiocinative 
cohesion, which offers itself direct to the intuition of the 
spirit. None but a person with Madame Guyon's ex- 
periences could have written Madame Guyon's Auto- 





Introduction on the mysterious ways of God, who destroys before 
building, and regards with more abhorrence the righteous than the 



Birth and infancy — Placed with tlie Ursulines, afterwards with the 
Benedictines — Remarks on the education of children and serious 
faults commonly committed therein 7 


Returns to the Ursulines, and placed under her own sister — Various 
illnesses — Brought back to her father's house, then placed in 
another convent ; where neglected and illtreated .... 16 


Various troubles at home — First Communion — Affected by report of a 
visit from a relative, a missionary to the East — Reads something of 
St. Francis de Sales and the Life of Madame de Chantal, which 
attract her to prayer — Desires to be a nun 22 


Attends on her father in his illness — Benefits from society of a cousin, 
whom, however, her mother separates her from — Makes a journey 
into the country, and neglects prayer of the heart ; from which she 



suffers miicli iajury, vtinity gaining strength — Serious loss ono 
suffers who abandons lieart prayer, — which the Devil fears and 
hates ............ 31 


Marriage arranged by hor father — Harsh treiittnt-nt in her husband's 
house— Isolation and unhappiness drive her back to God for 
assistance — Crosses of her daily life ; afterwards seen to be God's 
instruments for her salvation 41 


Her first pregnancy — Considerable pecuniary losses — Workings of 
vanity — Joins her husband at Paris, where she meets Madame de 
Longueville— Falls ill, and life despaired of — Usefulness of this 
illness 51 


Death of her mother — Visit of Madame de Ch , and of her oousin 

from Cochin China, to her father's house — Arrival in the neigh- 
bourhood of a Franciscan monk, to whom her father sends her — 
The interview and its effect — He hesitates to accept responsibility 
of director — Her new state, love and enjoyment .... 61 


Discussion on visions — Ecstasy — Interior distinct words — Revelations 
of the future — Ravishment — Her state that of pure love and simple 
faith 69 


Austerities — Magdalen's Day, 166^, profoundly touched — Absorption in 
God — Gives up all amusements and society — Annihilation of the 
Powers : the Will in Charity ; the Understanding in Faith ; 
Memory in Hope — The whole soul through the Will absorbed and 
lost in Charity 74 


The effective way to mortify the senses — One must not become utlached 
to this mortification — Love guides and corrects her through all — 


Difficulty of confession — God punishes the least faults and 
purifies — Severity of such purification; similar to the purgatory 
after death 81 


Continual domestic trials — Also her husband objects to her devotion — 
So possessed by God that she sees and feels only his love — Becomes 
acquainted with Genevieve Granger, Prioress of Benedictines — 
Opposition of her confessor and her mother-in-law — Intensity of 
the love by which she was drawn — Delight in crosses ... 88 


Was given au instinct of self-sacrifice — And a state ot prayer in 
silence — Dryness in prayer — Went on a journey where she com- 
mitted some infidelities through weakness — At Paris confessors 
amazed at her — Infidelity and dryness — Mediate speech and sub- 
stantial operative speech — At Paris has strength to avoid the occasion 
but not to stand faithful when the occasion arises, therefore hastens 
to leave — Entertainment at St. Cloud in her honour — Strange inter- 
view on her way to Notre Dame witii one formerly a porter . .100 


Journey to Orleans and Touraine — Struggle between nature and grace, 
with respect to the admiration she aroused — Inefficiency of con- 
fessors — Accidents an<l dangers on the journey — Perverse confessor — 
Encouraged on her return home by Mother Granger — Prays to 
be delivered from the means of sinning through vanity — Melting 
power of Divine caresses after a fault 110 


Is attacked by small-pox October 4, 1670, in her twenty-third year — Neg- 
lected by her family, and in the utmost danger — i^everity of her 
illness — Thankfulness — Younger son died — Refuses to use pomades 
o!i recovery, and, in her disfigured state, is compelled by Love to 
expose herself — Illness of her husband 116 


Annoyances from the maid-servant — 111 treatment from her husband and 
mother-in-law — Her father's remonstrance with her, and the 
answer — Continued petty vexations, and her behaviour under 
them — Absentmindednese and incapacity to notice external 
matters 124 

:cxvi CONTENTS. 


Increased attraction to, and absorption of her will in God's— Difficulty 
in obtaining time for prayer and in attending Mass — Special 
providences regarding Mass — Intercourse with Mother Granger 
prohibited — Her son set against her — Her husband's indiflference 
to her attentions 131 


First meeting with Father La Combe — Continual prayer and presence 
of God— Domestic ill treatment — Alternations of crosses— Natural 
disposition to hastiness — Large charities to the poor — Complete 
alienation from life of the senses 139 


Effects of small-pox and her austerities — Visit to Paris to see M. 
Bertot ; not of much use to her — Her father's death, and her return 
home alone, by night, through a dangerous forest — Death of her 
daughter, a sweet and pious child — Mother Granger sends her a 
contract of marriage with the Child Jesus — Effects of this consecra- 
tion — Crosses increased — Letter from M. Bertot — Malignity of nature 
in nourishing itself even from despair 146 


Her friend, wife of the governor of the town — Touched by God — 
Accidents on a journey — Pilgrimage to St. Reine of her husband — 
Becomes again pregnant — During this period enjoys an anticipation 
of beatitude, being totally possessed by God — Death of Mother 
Granger — Marriage of her brother, and his hatred of her — Unjust 
lawsuit, happily ended on her representations .156 


Entry on state of total privation — The dark night of the Soul — 
Difference between this and previous temporary privations — 
Communion, far from relieving, deepens the state — Total abandon- 
ment to God, the only root of spiritual happiness here and here- 
after — Internal struggle — Inability to fix thoughts in prayer — 
Utter powerlesenesB 165 


External croBseB and increased illness of her husband— Chapel built by 
him in the country consecrated— Birth of her daughter — Death of 
her husband on Eve of the Magdalen- 111 health — Arranges her 
husband B pajiera and affairs ...... 173 

CONTENTS. xxvii 


The state of privation — M. Bertot of no help, and declines to conduct 

her — Inability to read — A state of insensibility .... 182 


Domestic crosses — Visit to Paris to seek Bertot — Makes a retreat under 
his control —Acquaintance with suspected Jansenist, who becomes 
hostile and decries her — Often ill — State of pure misere — 
Abjectness 189 


Instantaneous deliverance from all sensibility for the creature — Various 
offers of marriage — Extreme illness — Nothing to be seen but 
condemnation of herself, with a secret joy at Jesus Christ's 
suiBciency — Self-hatred — Bodily weakness, and utter ignorance of 
the nature of her state 197 


Given up by the monk whose words first touched her — Perversity of 
her mother-in-law — Determination to leave her house — Prevented 
by intervention of a common friend 203 


God had not allowed her to seek relief from His yoke— Since shown 
how the obscure way in which she was led is the surest — Whence 
the soul emerges clothed with Jesus Christ's states — Final 
insensibility mistaken by her for hardness of reprobation — Letter 
to Father La Combe on behalf of a servant, and his answer — Idea 
of Geneva had forced itself on her — Second letter to Father La 
Combe, and his Mass on the Magdalen's Day 210 


Perfect deliverance and entry into the state of God-Peace — One day of 
which compensates with interest many years of suffering— Perfect 
indifference, and resignation to God's plans for her — Ascent from 
the gifts to the Giver — This state never lost, but continued growing 
in strength and perfectness- Unity in place of Union . . "216 


Visit to Paris, and direction given by an unknown confessor — Domini- 
can monk, a friend desirous of going to Siam, visits her — Her 


dream of Tabor — After Mass for the purpose, this monk tells her 
tu go to Geneva, aud visits Paris to consult the Bishop of Geneva 
on the subject — Being in Paris, she consults the Bishop herself, and 
eeea the Superior of the New Catholics — Confirmed in the plan by 
M. Bertot and others— Prognostics of crosses to come — Satisfied 
that it was God's will 224 


Change in her mother-in-law's behaviour— Purgation of a priest and of 
a nuu — Severity of the winter 1G80, and her charities — Dying 
soldier taken in and nursed by her — Love to her children — Despite 
hesitations beforehand, since the event has never doubted she was 
doing God's will — Discussion of plans with New Catholics — 
Diverted from her first idea — Daughter of the Cross of Geneva 233 



Departure from home ; afterwards from Paris -Mysterious behaviour 
of her daughter — Foretelling crosses — Vision of a holy nun — ■ 
Incompatibility between the New Catholics and the spirit guiding 
her — Divine support and protection on the road— Arrival at 
Annecy — Mass at the tomb of St. Francis de Sales — Arrival at 
Gex ; where only bare walls— Profound suflfering ou account of 
her daughter 245 


Father La Combe, by order of the Bishop of Geneva, came to see her — 
Spiritual union perceived at once, to her great astonishment — 
Father La Combe said Masses to ascertain God's will regarding 
her — Answers given in the central depth of her spirit — Distinction 
between communicatiuus ah exlerno falling upon tlie Powers, and 
immediate communication througii the central depth — Meeting 
with a holy hermit at Tonon — His vision — Anxieties ou account of 
her daughter 252 



General condemnation in France of her departure — Borne by her in a 
divine manner — Enlargement of her intelligence when lost in 
God — Biahop of Geneva came to see her, and was convinced of her 
divine call — Praised Father La Combe, and gave him as her 
director — Her dangerous illness— Cured miraculously — Her vows 
of perpetual chastity, poverty, and obedience — The realities 
corresponding to these vows — Tender watchfulness of God over 
her 261 


Radical purification with annihilation of the selfhood in its effects — 
Experience at the commencement of this state — Passage over of the 
soul into God — Partitions or dividing barriers caused by trifling and 
superficial assertions of the selfhood — The Union becomes Unity — 
Extraordinary experience while at confession, lasting over three 
days — Return to Gex, after her retreat at Tonon, through Geneva ; 
where thrown from a horse — Change of opinion at Paris . . 270 


Surrenders all her property — Sees all external crosses as coming from 
God — The Devil attempted to alarm her — Rappings on the windows 
and all over the room, but she was without fear — Then he at- 
tacked her indirectly, through an influential ecclesiastic — Choice 
between approbation of men with the assurance of her salvation, 
and OOD'S OLOBT ALONE— Mysterious dream foreshowing perse- 
cution to her and Father La Combe — 111 treatment by the New 
Catholics 279 


The Bishop of Geneva turns against her; wishes to force her to 
become Prioress of this House at Gex ; and urges Father La 
Combe to order her to consent — Father La Combe preaches a 
sermon at which that ecclesiastic takes offence — Madame Guyon 
leaves Gex, and retires to the Ursulines at Tonon — Vision of a holy 
aged priest 287 


The Bishop and his ecclesiastic intercept her letters, and write against 
her — Father La Mothe, her step-brother, joins with them in circu- 
Inting calumnies — Her interior state: the central depth in enjoy- 
Ku-nt of a peace, freedom, vastness, admitting of no disturbance — 


So lost in the Will of God as to will only what he willed — Means 
previously used by God to make her perfectly supple — The two 
modes by which God leads souls to himself shown under figure of 
two drops of water — Visit of Bishop to Tonon at Easter, 1682 — 
Speaking with the responsibility of hifl oflSce, he expressed 
approval 296 


Tranquillity of her soul — Description of a soul in the state of divine 
indiflFerencf, self-centre annihilated — Trials vary according to 
the state of the soul — Grace must come and go in its purity in 
God — The soul perfectly happy in what she has, without choice or 
desire — A plaything of providence — Reserve of former states no 
longer proper — Engendering of the Word — Aiwstolic state . . 307 


Calamnies against her and Father La Combe — Circulated by Father La 
Mothe — Reception at Rome of Father La Combe — Arrival of her 
sister, an Ursuline nun, with a maid for her— Sanctity in God's 
sight and in man's — Return from Rome of Father La Combe — 
Serious affection of the eyes— Immovable in the midst of all her 
crosses — In such immovable state, only suffering direct from the 
hand of God can make itself felt 319 


Miraculous recovery of her daughter- -DiflBculties as to lier education ; 
but all received as from God, leaving no sting — Spiritual con- 
versations unprofitable — Divine providence sole rule and guide for 
a soul whose self-centre is lost —The divine moment — Enjoyment 
of saints in heaven— St. Catharine of Genoa on purgatory . . 330 





GOD ALONE. — Since you wish me to write a life so worth- 
less and so extraordinary as mine, and the omissions I 
made in the former have appeared to you too considerable 
to leave it in that state, I wish with all my heart, in order 
to obey you, to do what you desire of me ; although the 
labour appears to me a little severe in the state I am in, 
which does not allow me to reflect much. I should 
extremely wish to make you understand the goodness of 
God to me, and the excess of my ingratitude ; but it would 
be impossible for me to do it, as well because you do not 
wish me to write my sins in detail, as because I have lost 
the memory of many things. I will endeavour to acquit 
myself as well as I can, trusting to your assurance never 
to let it appear to the eyes of men, and that you will burn 
it when God shall have drawn from it the effect that he 
proposes for your spiritual profit ; for which I would 
sacrifice all things, being persuaded, as I am, of the 
designs of God for you, both for the sanctification of your 
X)wn self, and for that of others. But I assure you at the 

VOL. I. B 


same time, that you will not attain this save b}* much 
trouble and labour, and by a road which will appear to 
you quite eontrarj- to your expectation. You will not, how- 
ever, be surprised at it if you are convinced that God does 
not establish his great works except upon " the nothing." 
It seems that he destroys in order to build. He does it so 
in order that this temple he destines for himself, built even 
with much pomp and majesty, but built none the less by 
the hand of men, should be previously so destroyed that 
there remains not one stone upon another. It is these 
frightful ruins which will be used by the Holy Spirit to 
construct a temple which will not be built by the hand of 
men, but by his power alone. 

Oh, if you could understand this mystery — so profound 
it is ! — and conceive the secrets of God's conducting, 
revealed to the little ones, but concealed from the great 
and wise of the earth, who imagine themselves to be the 
councillors of the Lord, and to penetrate the depth of his 
ways ; who persuade themselves that they attain this 
divine wisdom, unknown to those who still live to them- 
selves and in their "own" operations, ** concealed even 
from the birds of the heaven " — that is to say, from those 
who by the vivacity of their lights and by the strength 
of their elevation, approach the heaven, and think to 
penetrate the height, the depth, the breadth, and the 
length of God ! This divine wisdom is unknown even to 
those who pass in the world for i)ersons extraordinary in 
light and in learning. To whom, then, will it be known ? 
and who will be able to tell us news of it? "Destruction 
and death." It is they who " declare to have heard with 
their ears the sound of its reputation." It is, then, in dying 
to all things and in truly losing one's self as regards them, 
to pass into God, and to subsist only in him, that one 
has some intelligence of the true wisdom. Oh, how little 
one understands her ways, and the course she leads 
her most chosen servants ! Hardly does one discover 


something of it, than, surprised at the difference of the 
truth one discovers from the ideas one had formed of the 
true perfection, one exclaims with St. Paul, " depth of 
knowledge and of wisdom of God, how incomprehensible 
are your judgments, and your ways difficult to know ! " 
You do not judge things as men judge of them, who 
call good, evil, and evil, good, and who regard as great 
righteousness things abominable before God, and which 
according to his prophet he values no more than if they 
were dirty rags ; who will even examine with rigour those 
selfhood-begotten righteousnesses, which (like those of the 
Pharisees) will be matters for his indignation and his 
anger, and not the object of his love and the subject of 
his recompenses, as he himself assures us when he says : 
" If your righteousness does not exceed that of the scribes 
and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of 
heaven." Who of us has a righteousness that approaches 
that of the Pharisees, and who, while doing much less 
good than they did, has not a hundred times more ostenta- 
tion than they had? Who of us is not well content to 
appear righteous to his own eyes and to the eyes of others, 
and who does not believe it is enough to be righteous in 
this way to be so to the eyes of God ? 

Yet we see the indignation Jesus Christ has exhibited, 
as well as his forerunner, against these sorts of persons — 
he whose gentleness was so infinite that it was the perfect 
model of all gentleness, but of a gentleness radical and 
coming from the heart, not of that affected gentleness, 
which under the appearance of the dove preserves the 
heart of a hawk. Jesus Christ, I say, has had only 
severity for these self-righteous persons, and seemed to 
dishonour them before men. The picture he made of them 
was strange, while he regards the sinners with mercy, 
compassion, and love, and protests he is only come for 
them, that it is these sick ones who have need of a 
physician ; that while the Saviour of Israel, he is yet 


come to save only the lost sheep of the House of Israel. 
Love ! it appears you are so jealous of the salvation 
you yourself give, that you prefer the sinner to the 
righteous. It is true, this poor sinner, seeing in himself 
only wretchedness, is, as it were, constrained to hate him- 
self ; finding himself an object of horror, he casts himself 
headlong into the arms of his Saviour. He plunges with 
love and confidence into the sacred bath of his blood, 
whence he comes forth white as wool. It is then that, 
all confused at his disorders, and all full of love for him 
who, having alone been able to remedy his evils, has had 
the charity to do it, he loves him so much the more as 
his crimes have been more enormous, and his gratitude is 
so much the greater as the debts which have been for- 
given him are more abundant ; while the righteous, 
supported by the great number of works of righteousness 
he presumes to have done, seems to hold his salvation 
in his own hands, and regards heaven as the recompense 
due to his merits. He damns all sinners in the bitterness 
of his zeal. He makes them see the entrance of heaven 
shut for them. He persuades them they ought not to 
regard it but as a place to which they have no right, while 
he believes its opening so much the more assured to him 
as he flatters himself to deserve it more. His Saviour is 
for him almost useless. He goes away so loaded with 
merits that he is overwhelmed with their weight. Oh, but 
he will remain a long time weighed down under that vain- 
glorious burden, while his sinners, stripped of everything, 
are carried swiftly by the wings of love and confidence 
into the arms of their Saviour, who gives them gratuitously 
what he has infinitely merited for them. 

Oh, how the former have love of themselves, and little 
love of God ! They love themselves, and admire themselves 
in their works of righteousness, which they esteem as the 
cause of their happiness. They are, however, no sooner 
exposed to the rays of the Divine Sun of Eighteousness, 


than it discovers all their iniquity, and makes them 
appear so filthy that they make one sick ; while he 
pardons the Magdalen, devoid of all righteousness, " because 
she loves much," and her love and her faith take for her 
the place of righteousness. Whence comes it that the 
divine Paul, who so well understood these great truths, and 
has so admirably described them for us, assures us "the 
faith of Abraham was imputed to him for righteousness " ? 
This is perfectly fair, for it is certain this holy patriarch 
performed all his actions in a very great righteousness. 
Oh, it is that he did not see them as such, and being 
entirely disengaged from all of the self and devoid of its 
love, his faith was founded only on the future salvation his 
Saviour should bring him. He hoped in him even against 
hope, and this faith was imputed to him as righteousness — 
that is to say, righteousness, pure, simple, and clean ; 
righteousness merited by Jesus Christ, and not a righteous- 
ness of his own, performed by him, and regarded as from 
himself. This, which will appear extremely remote from the 
object I proposed to myself at first in writing, will never- 
theless conduct you to it insensibly, and make you see 
that God chooses for carrying out his works either con- 
verted sinners whose past iniquity serves as counterpoise 
to the exaltation, or else persons in whom he destroys 
and overthrows that *' oiun " righteousness, and that 
temple built by the hand of men, so that there remains 
not a stone that is not destroyed, because all those works 
are built only upon the quicksand, which is the resting on 
the created, and in these same works, in place of being 
founded on the living stone, Jesus Christ. All that he has 
come to establish, by entering the world, is effected by the 
overthrow and destruction of the same things he wished 
to build. He established his Church in a manner that 
seemed to destroy it. What manner of establishing a new 
law, and accrediting it when the legislator is condemned 
as a criminal by the doctors and powerful of the earth, 

6 MADxYME GUYOX. [Part 1. 

aii.\ at last dies upon a gibbet ! Ob, if men knew bow 
opposed is tbe " dUu " rigbteousuess to tbe designs of God, 
"we sbould bavc an eternal subject of bumiliation and 
of distrust of wbat at present constitutes our sole support ! 
Tbis granted, 3'ou will liave no trouble to conceive tbe 
design of God in tbe graces be lias bestowed on tbe most 
worthless of creatures. You will even believe tbem with- 
out difficulty. Tbey are all graces — tbat is to say, gifts — 
wbicb I bave never merited ; on tbe contrary, of wbicb I 
have made myself very unworthy. But God, through an 
extreme love of bis power, and a righteous jealousy of 
the way in which men attribute to other men the good 
that God puts in tbem, has willed to take tbe most unworthy 
subject that ever was, to show that his bounties are effects 
of his will, and not fruits of our merits ; that it is the 
IDeculiarity of his wisdom to destroy wbat is proudly built, 
and to build what is destroyed, to make " use of weak 
things to confound the strong." But if be makes use of 
things vile and contemptible, he does it in a manner 
so astonishing tbat he renders them the object of con- 
tempt to all creatures. It is not in procuring for them the 
approbation of men tbat he makes use of tbem for the 
salvation of those same men, but in rendering tbem tbe 
mark for their insults and an object of execration. This 
is wbat you will see in tbe life you ordered me to write. , 



I WAS born, according to some accounts, on Easter Even, 
13fch April — although my baptism was not till 24th May — 
in the year 1648, of a father and mother who made pro- 
fession of very great piety, particularly my father, who had 
inherited it from his ancestors ; for one might count, from 
a very long time, almost as many saints in his family as 
there were persons who composed it. I was born, then, not 
at the full time, for my mother had such a terrible fright 
that she brought me into the vrorld in the eighth month, 
when it is said to be almost impossible to live. I no sooner 
received life than I was on the point of losing it, and dying 
without baptism. They carried me to a nurse, and I was 
no sooner there than they came to tell my father I was 
dead. He was very distressed at it. Some time after they 
came to inform him I had given some sign of life. My 
father immediately took a priest, and brought him to me 
himself. But as soon as he came to the room where I was 
they told him that mark of life I had given was a last sigh, 
and that I was absolutely dead. Ifc is true they could not 
observe in me any sign of life. The priest went away, and 
my father also, in extreme desolation. This state con- 
tinued so long that were I to tell it, it could hardly be 

my God, it seems to me that you have permitted so 
strange a course in my case only to make me better com- 


prebend the greatness of your bounties to me, and how you 
willed I should be indebted to you alone for my salvation, 
and not to the industry of any creature. If I had died 
then I should never perhaps have either known or loved 
you, and this heart, created for you alone, would have 
been separated from you without having been one instant 
united to you. God, who are the sovereign felicit}', if 
at present I deserve your hatred, and if in the future I am 
a vessel prepared for perdition, there remains to me at 
least this consolation of having known you, of having 
loved you, of having sought you, of having followed j'ou, 
and how willingly I accept, simply from love of your 
righteousness, the eternal decree it shall give against me. 
I will love it though it shall be more rigorous for me than 
for any other. Love, I love your righteousness so, and 
your pure glory, that without regarding myself and my own 
interest, I place myself on its side against myself : I will 
strike where it will strike. But if I had died then, I had 
never loved it. I would perhaps have hated it instead of 
loving it, and although I should have had the advantage of 
never having actually offended you, the pleasure of immo- 
lating myself to j'ou through love, and the happiness of 
having loved you, outweigh in my heart the trouble of 
having displeased you. 

These alternations of life and death at the com- 
mencement of my life were fateful auguries of what was 
to happen to me one day ; now dying by sin, now living by 
grace. Death and life had a struggle. Death was on the 
point of vanquishing and overcoming life, but life remained 
victorious. Oh, if it was permitted me to have that con- 
fidence, and I could believe at last that life will be for ever 
victorious over death ! Doubtless it will be so if you alone 
live in me, my God, who seem to be at present my 
only life, and my only love. At last they found a moment 
when the grace of baptism was conferred upon me. I 
ceased for a short time to be your enemy, my God, but,. 


alas ! how soon I lost so great a good, and how disastrous 
for me was my miserable reason, wdiich appeared more 
advanced than in many others, since it only served me the 
sooner to lose your grace ! As soon as I was baptized they 
sought the cause of these continual faintings. They saw I 
had at the bottom of the back a tumour of prodigious size. 
Incisions were made in it, and the wound was so great the 
surgeon could introduce his entire hand. So sm-prising an 
ailment at such a tender age ought to have deprived me of 
life ; but, my God, as you willed to make of me a subject 
of your greatest mercies, you did not permit it. This 
tumour, which discharged a frightful pus, was, methinks, 
the symbol that you should, my Love, discharge the 
corruption that is in me and take away all its malignity. 
Hardly was this strange ailment cured, than, as they have 
told me, gangrene attacked one thigh, afterwards the other. 
My life was only a tissue of ills. At two and a half years, 
I was placed at the Ursulines, where I remained some 
time. Afterwards they took me away. My mother, who 
did not much love girls, neglected me a little, and abandoned 
me too much to the care of women who neglected me also ; 
yet you, my God, protected me, for accidents were 
incessantly happening to me, occasioned by my extreme 
vivacity, without any serious consequence. I even fell 
several times through a ventilator into a very deep cellar 
filled with w^ood. A number of other accidents happened, 
which I omit for brevity. I was then four years old, when 
Madame the Duchess of Montbason came to the Bene- 
dictines. As she had much friendship for my father, she 
asked him to place me in that house when she would be 
there, because I was a great diversion to her. I was 
always with her, for she much loved the exterior God had 
given me. I was continually dangerously ill. I do not 
remember to have committed any considerable faults in 
that house. I saw there only good examples, and as my 
natural disposition w^as towards good, I followed it when I 

10 MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 

found nobody to turn me aside from it. I loved to bear talk 
about God, to be at eburcb, and to be dressed as a nun. 
One day I imagined tbat tbe terror they put me into of 
bell was only to intimidate me because I was very brigbt, 
and I bad a little archness to which they gave the name of 
cleverness. A.t night, when sleeping, I saw a picture of hell 
so frightful that, though I was so young, I have never 
forgotten it. It appeared to me as a place of fearful gloom, 
where the souls were tormented. My place was shown to 
me there, which made me cry bitterly, and say to our 
Lord, ** my God, if you would be merciful to me, and 
give me some days of life, I would no more offend you." 
You granted them to me, my God, and you even gave me 
a courage to serve you beyond my age. I wished to go to 
confession without saying anything to any one, but as I 
was very small, the mistress of the boarders carried me to 
confession and remained with me. They only listened to 
me. She was astonished to hear that I first accused 
myself of having had thoughts against the faith, and the 
confessor, beginning to laugh, asked me what they were. 
I told him that I had up to now been in doubt about hell : 
that I had imagined my mistress spoke to me of it only to 
make me good, but I no longer doubted. After my con- 
fession I felt an indescribable fervour, and even one time 
I experienced a desire to endure martyrdom. Those 
worthy girls, to divert themselves, and see how far my 
budding fervour would go, told me to prepare myself for it. 
I prayed you, my God, with ardour and sweetness, and 
I thought this ardour, as new as it was agreeable to me, 
an assurance of your love. This gave me boldness, and 
made me urgently demand that they should grant me 
martyrdom, because thereby I should go to see you, oh my 
God. But was there not in this some hypocrisy, and did 
I not perhaps persuade myself they would not put me to 
death, and that I would have the merit of death without 
suffering it ? There must have been something; of this 

€ii\v. U.} AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 11 

nature, for these girls bad no sooner placed me on my 
knees on a spread-out sheet, than seeing them raise behind 
me a great cutlass, which they bad purposely taken to 
test bow far my ardour would go, I cried out, ** It is 
not allowable for me to die without the permission of my 
father." They said that I would not then be a martyr, 
and I said this only to save myself, and it was true. Yet 
I nevertheless continued much afflicted, and they could 
not console me. Something reproached me that it bad 
only depended on myself to go to heaven, and I bad not 
been willing. 

In this liouse I was much loved, but you, my God, 
who were unwilling to leave me a moment without some 
crosses proportioned to my age, permitted that as soon as 
I recovered from the illness, grown girls who were in this 
house, one in particular, played numerous tricks upon me 
through jealousy. They once accused me of a serious fault 
that I had not committed. I was very severely punished 
for it, which gave me a dislike to this house, whence I was 
withdrawn owing to my great and constant illnesses. As 
soon as I returned to my father's, my mother left me, as 
before, to the charge of servants, because there was a maid 
there in whom she trusted. I cannot help here noting the 
fault mothers commit who, under pretext of devotion or 
occupation, neglect to keep their daughters with them ; for 
it is not credible that my mother, so virtuous as she was, 
would have thus left me, if she bad thought there was any 
barm in it. I must also condemn those unjust preferences 
that they show for one child over another, which produce 
division and the ruin of families, while equality unites the 
hearts and entertains charity. Why cannot I make fathers 
and mothers understand, and all persons who wish to guide 
youth, the evil they do, when they neglect the guidance of 
the children, when they lose sight of them for a long time 
^nd do not employ them ? 

This negligence is the ruin of almost all young girls. 

12 MADAME GUYOX. [Part I. 

How many of them are there who would be angels, whom 
liberty and idleness turn into demons ! What is more 
deplorable is that mothers otherwise devout ruin them- 
selves by what ought to save them, they make their sin of 
what ought to constitute then- good conduct, and because 
they have some taste for prayer, especially at the com- 
mencement, they fall into two extremes ; the one of 
wishing to keep young chikU-en in church as long as them- 
selves, which gives them a strong disgust for devotion, as 
I have seen in many persons, who when they are free avoid 
the church and piety like hell. This arises from their 
being surfeited with a food they could not relish, because 
their stomach was not suited for that nourishment, and for 
want of power of digestion they conceived such aversion to 
it that, where it would be suitable for them, they will no 
longer even try it. What also contributes to it is that 
these devout mothers keep them so shut up, giving them 
no liberty, like birds one keeps in a cage, who as soon as 
they find any opening fly away and never return ; whereas 
to tame them when they are young, one should give them 
from time to time a lly, and as their wings are weak and 
one watches them flying, it is easy to catch them again 
when they escape, and this little flight accustoms them to 
return of themselves into their cage, which is for them 
become an agreeable iDrisou. I believe we should do thi3 
same with young girls. A mother should never lose sight 
of them, and should give them an honourable liberty. 
They should keep them correct without affectation. They 
would soon see the fruit of this conduct. 

The other extreme is still more dangerous. It is that 
these devout mothers (for I do not spe:ik of those who are 
addicted to their own pleasures, the luxuries and the vain 
amusements of the age, whose presence is more hurtful for 
their daughters than their absence : I speak of those 
devotees who wish to serve God in their mode, not in his, 
and who, to pursue their style of devotion, disregard the 


will of God) — these mothers, I say, will he the whole day 
at church, while their daughters' one thought is to 
offend God. The greatest glory they could render God 
would he to prevent his heing offended. Of what kind is 
this sacrifice, which is an occasion of iniquity ? Let them 
perform their devotions, and never separate their daughters 
from them. Let them treat them as sisters, and not as 
slaves. Let them make it appear to them that they are 
diverted at their diversions. This conduct will make them 
love the presence of their mothers, instead of avoiding it, 
and, finding much sweetness with them, they will not think 
of seeking it elsewhere. "We must be careful to occupy their 
minds with useful and agreeable things, as it prevents 
them filling themselves with evil things. They should 
each day have a little good reading and some quarter of an 
hour of prayer — of the affections rather than of meditation. 
Oh, if one so treated them, one would soon put a stop to 
irregularities ! There would be no longer wayward 
daughters nor bad mothers ; for these girls, when mothers, 
would bring up their children as they themselves had been 
brought up. 

There would also be no more division, no more scandal 
in families, when uniform conduct was observed to each. 
This would promote union, while the unjust preferences 
that are shown to children give rise to secret jealousy and 
hatred, which augment with time and last till death. 
How many children do we see the idol of their house, who 
play the sovereign, and treat their brothers as slaves, in 
imitation of their fathers and mothers ! You would say that 
the one are the servants of the others. It ordinarily happens 
that this idolized child becomes the scourge of father 
and mother, and that poor neglected one becomes after- 
wards their whole consolation. If people lived as I have 
said, they would no longer think of forcing children into 
religion, and sacrificing the one in order to rear the others. 
By that the cloisters would be freed from disorder ; for none 

14 MADAME GUYOX. [L\u:t L 

would be there but persons called by God, and whose 
vocation was supported b}' him ; while those persons who 
inahc the vocation of their children are cause of their 
despair and their damnation, through the irreconcilable 
hatred they preserve against their brothers and their 
sisters, the innocent causes of their misfortune both tem- 
poral and eternal. Oh, fathers and mothers, what reason 
have you to treat them so? "That child," you say, "is 
ill favoured by nature." For this very cause you ought 
to love it more and to pity it. It is you, perhaps, who are 
the cause of its misfortune ; increase, then, yom- charity 
towards it. Or else it is, God gives it to you to be the 
object of your compassion and not of your hatred. Is it 
not sufficiently afflicted in seeing itself deprived of those 
natural advantages which the others possess, without your 
increasing its grief by your unjust and cruel procedure ? 
This child which you despise will one day be a saint, and 
that other, perhaps, a demon. 

My mother failed in these two points, for she left me aU. 
day at a distance from her, with servants who could only 
teach me evil and render it familiar to me. For I was so 
constituted that good examples attracted me in such a way 
that where I saw people doing good, I did it and never 
thought at all of ill ; but I no sooner saw people doing iU, 
than I forgot the good. God, what danger would I not 
then have run if my infancy had not been an obstacle 
to it ! With an invisible hand, my God, you put aside 
all the dangers. As my mother gave no sign of having 
any love except for my brother, and never showed any 
tenderness to me, I willingly kept away from her. It is 
true my brother was more amiable than I ; but also the 
extreme love she had for him shut her eyes to mj' exterior 
qualities, so that she saw only my defects, which would 
have been of no consequence if care had been taken of 
me. I was often ill, and always exposed to a thousand 
dangers without, however, doing at that time, it appears 


to me, anything worse than saying many pretty things, as 
I thought, to divert. As my liberty increased each day, it 
went so far that one day I left the house and went into 
the street to play with other children at games which were 
not suited to my rank. You, my God, who continually 
watched over a child who incessantly forgot you, per- 
mitted that my father came home and saw me. As he 
loved me very tenderly, he was so vexed that, without 
saying a word to any one, he took me straight away to the 



I ^VAS then nearly seven years of age. Two of my sisters 
■were there as nuns — one the daughter of my father, the 
other of my mother ; for both my father and my mother 
had been married before having married each other. My 
father made me over to the charge of his daughter, and I 
can say she was one of the most capable and the most 
spiritual persons of her time, and most fit to form young 
girls. It "was for me, my God, an effect of your 
providence and your love, and the first means of my 
salvation. For as she loved me much, her affection made 
her discover in me a number of qualities you had placed 
there, my God, by your goodness alone. She endeavoured 
to cultivate them. I believe that if I had always been in 
such wise hands, I should have had as much of virtue as I 
have subsequently contracted of evil habits. This worthy 
woman employed all her time to instruct me in piety and 
in learning suited to my capacity. She had natural 
talents, which had been well cultivated, and moreover was a 
person of great prayer, and her faith was very great and 
very pure. She deprived herself of all gratification to be 
with me and to talk to me, and her love for me was such 
that it made her find, she told me, more pleasure with me 
than anywhere else. If I made her some pleasant reply, 
more by chance than wit, she thought herself only too well 
paid for all her pains. In short, she instructed me so well 


that, after a short time, there were hardly any thmgs of 
those suited for me -which I was ignorant of. There were 
even many persons of full age who could not have 
answered the questions I used to answer. 

My father used often to send for me to see him, and it 
happened that the Queen of England came to the house 
when I was there. I was then nearly eight years of age. 
My father told the queen's confessor, if he wished for some 
pleasure, he should converse with me and put questions tc 
mc. He asked me even very diflicult ones. I answered 
them so apropos that he took me to the Queen, and said to her, 
"Your Majesty must have the diversion of this child." 
She did so, and seemed so pleased with my lively answers- 
and my manners, that she urgently asked me from my 
father, assuring him she would take particular care of me, 
intending me to be maid of honour to Madame. My 
father resisted and vexed her. my God, it was you 
who permitted the resistance of my father, and thereby 
turned aside the stroke on which, perhaps, depended my 
salvation. For being as weak as I was, what could I have- 
done at Court but destroy myself? 

They sent me back to the Ursulines, where my sister 
continued her charity towards me ; but as she was not 
mistress of the boarders, and I had sometimes to go with 
them, I contracted evil habits. I became a liar, passionate^, 
undevout. I passed days without thinking on you, my 
God, who watched continually over me, as what I shall tell 
in the sequel will prove. I did not long continue in this, 
evil state, for the care of my sister brought me back. I 
loved much to hear talk of you, my God, and I never 
wearied of it. I was not tired at church, and I loved to 
pray to you, and I had tenderness for the poor. I was 
naturally greatly opposed to persons whose doctrine was- 
doubtful, having sucked in the purity of the faith with my 
milk, and you have always preserved this grace to me,. 
my God, in the midst of my greatest infideUties. 

VOL. I. C 

18 ^lADAME GUYON. [Paut I. 

There was, at tue cud of the garden, a chapel dedicated 
to the Chikl Jesus. I conceived a devotion for it, and 
for some time every morning I carried my breakfast there 
and concealed it all behind his image ; for I was so childish 
I thought I was making a considerable sacrifice in depriving 
myself of it. I was, however, greed}-. I wished, indeed, to 
mortify myself, but I did not wish to be mortified, which 
jDroves how much self-love I already had. One day, when 
they were thoroughly cleaning out this chapel, they found 
behind the picture what I had carried there. They knew 
it was I, because I was seen going there every day. You, 
my God, who leave nothing without recompense, you 
soon repaid me with interest this petty childish devotion. 
One day, when my companions, who were big girls, were 
amusing themselves, they went to dance over a well which, 
the water not being good, had been used as a cesspool for 
the kitchen. This cesspool was deep, and it had been 
covered with boards for fear of accident. When they had 
gone away, I wished to do as they, but the boards broke 
under me. I found myself in that frightful sink, supported 
by a little morsel of wood, so that I was only soiled and 
not stifled. my Love, was there not here a figure of the 
state I should hereafter bear? How often have you left 
me with your prophet in a deep pit of mud, whence I could 
not get out ! Have I not been fouled in this pit where I 
was all covered with mud? But you have preserved me 
there by your goodness alone. I have been soiled, but not 
stifled. I have been even to the gates of death, but death 
has had no power over me. I may say, my God, that it 
was your adorable hand which sustained me in that 
frightful place, rather than this stick by which I was 
stopped ; for it was very small, and the long time I was in 
the air with the weight of my body ought doubtless to have 
broken it. I cried with all my strength. The boarders, who 
saw me fall, instead of getting me out, went to look for 
the servants. Those Sisters, in place of coming to me, not 

Chap, III.] AUTOLlOGllAPirf. ID 

iloubtiug I was dead, went to the church to inform my 
sister, who was there in prayer. She at once prayed for 
me, and, after having invoked the Holy Virgin, she came to 
me half dead. She was not a little astonished when she 
saw me in the midst of that sink, seated in the mud as if 
upon a chair. She admired your goodness, my God, 
who had supported me in a miraculous manner ; but, alas ! 
how happy would I have been if this had been the only 
filth into which I should fall ! I escaped from that, only 
to fall into another a thousand times more dangerous. I 
repaid so remarkable a protection with the blackest in- 
gratitude. Love, I have never wearied your patience, 
because it was infinite. I have wearied myself of dis- 
pleasing you sooner than you of supporting me ! 

I remained still some time with my sister, where I 
retained the love and fear of God. My life was very tranquil. 
I grew up pleasantly with her. I even profited much during 
the time I had my health; for I was continually ill with 
diseases, as sudden as they were extraordinary. In the 
evening I would be quite well ; the morning I was found 
swollen and full of violet marks. Another time it was fever. 
At nine years of age I was seized with a vomiting of 
blood so violent they thought I was about to die. 

A little before this time the enemy, jealous of my 
happiness, caused another sister I had in this house to 
become jealous and wish to have me in her turn. Although 
she was good, she had no talent for the education of 
children. I can say that was the end of the happiness I 
enjoyed in this house. She caressed me much at first, but 
all her caresses made no impression on my heart. My 
other sister did more with one look than she with her 
caresses or her threats. As she saw I loved her less than 
her who had reared me, she changed her caresses to ill 
treatment. She would not even let me speak to my other 
sister, and when she knew I had spoken to her, she caused 
me to be whipped or beat me herself. I could not hold out 

20 MADAME GUYOX. [Part I. 

against this rigorous conduct, and I paid ^Yitll the blackest 
ingratitude all the kindness of my paternal sister, seeing 
her no more. That, however, did not hinder her from 
giving me proofs of her usual kindness in the great illness 
of which I have spoken, when I vomited blood. She did it 
the more willingl}' as she knew my ingratitude was rather 
the effect of the fear of punishment than of my bad heart. 
I believe it was the only time the fear of punishment has 
acted with so much power upon me ; for since then my 
natural character led me to be more distressed at the 
trouble I might cause a person for whom I entertained 
affection than at that which concerned myself. You know, 
my Love, that the fear of your chastisement has never 
made much impression either upon my intellect or upon 
my heart. Disgust at having offended you caused all my 
grief, and this was such that it seemed to me, though there 
should be neither Paradise nor Hell, I should always have 
had the same fear of displeasing you. You know that even 
after my faults your caresses were a thousand times more 
insupportable than your rigours, and that I would have a 
thousand times chosen Hell rather than displease you. 
My father, informed of all that passed between my sisters 
and me, withdrew me to his own house. I was then nearly 
ten years of age. 

TVhile with my father I became still more wicked. My 
former habits grew stronger day by day, and I inces- 
santly contracted new ones. Yet you guarded me, my 
God, in all these things, and I cannot without astonishment 
consider that, with the liberty I had of being all day away 
from my mother, you have so preserved me that I have 
never done anything unworthy of your protection. I was 
only a very short time with my father, for a nun of the 
order of St. Dominic, of very high birth, and an intimate 
friend of my father, urgently begged him to place me at 
her convent, of which she was Superior ; that she would 
herself take care of me, and she would allow me to sleep in 


her room, for this lady conceived mucli fiicndsliip for mc. 
As people saw only my exterior, and knew not how wicked 
I was, I used to please those who saw me. As soon as the 
opportunity was wanting, I forgot the evil which I com- 
mitted, not so much from inclination, as because I allowed 
myself to be led away. I did not appear wicked to this 
lady, because I loved the church, and used to remain there 
a long time ; but she was so occupied with her community, 
where there was then much quarrelling, that she could not 
give her attention to me. 

You sent me, my God, a species of flying small-pox 
which kept me in bed for three weeks. I no longer thought 
at all of offending you. I remained much neglected and 
without help, though my father and my mother believed I 
was perfectly well cared for. Those worthy ladies feared 
so much the small-pox that they dared not approach mc. 
I passed almost all this time without seeing any one except 
at the hours when it was necessary to take nourishment, 
which a lay sister brought me and immediately retired. I 
providentially found a Bible in the room where I lay. As 
I much loved reading, I attached myself to it. I read from 
morning till evening. I had a very good memory, so I 
learned everything in the nature of history. After I was 
recovered, another lady, seeing me so neglected owing to 
the great occupation of the prioress, took me into her room. 
Since when I had a reasonable person with whom I 
could converse, I thought no more of my old habits (to 
which I had no other attachment than that which others 
gave me), I again became more devout. I was very well 
disposed to pray to the Holy Virgin : I do not understand 
how I was made. In my greatest infidelities I used to 
pray, and I was careful to confess often. In another way 
I w'as very unhappy in this house, for as I was the only 
one of my age, and the other boarders were very grown, they 
severely persecuted me. As to eating and drinking, I was 
•so neglected that I grew very thin. I had still other little 
crosses according to my capacity. 

22 ilADAME GUTOX. [Part I. 


After having been about eight months in this house, my 
father •withdrew me. "My mother kept me with her. She 
was for some time very -well pleased with me, and loved 
me a little more as she found me to her taste. She never- 
theless still preferred my brother to me, which was so 
visible, every one disapproved of it ; for when I was ill and 
found something to my taste, my brother used to ask for 
it, and, although he was quite v;ell, it was taken from me 
to give him. From time to time he caused mo divers 
vexations. One day he made me climb upon the imperial 
of the carriage ; then he threw me to the ground — he was 
near killing me. I, however, received only bruises, no 
open wound ; for whatever fall I have suffered, I have never 
received a serious wound. It was your protecting hand, 
my God, which supported me. It seemed that you 
■were carrying out in me what you said by your royal 
prophet, that you place your hand under the righteous, 
that when he falls he may not be wounded. At other 
times he used to beat me. My mother never said any- 
thing to him for it. This conduct embittering my natural 
disposition, which would otherwise have been gentle, I 
neglected to do good, saying I was none the better for it. 
God, it was then not for you alone I used to behave 
well, since I ceased to do so because they no longer had 


any consideration for mc. If I bad known liov.' to make 
use of the crucifying conduct that you maintained over 
me, I should have made good progress, and, far from 
going astray, that would have made me return to you. 
I was jealous of my brother, for on every occasion I 
remarked the difference my mother made between him 
and me. However he behaved, he always did right, and I 
always wrong. My mother's servant-maids paid their 
court by caressing my brother and ill-treating me. It is 
true I was bad, for I had fallen back into my former defects 
of telling lies and getting in a passion. With all these 
faults I nevertheless willingly gave alms, and I much loved 
the poor. I assiduously prayed to you, my God, and I 
took pleasure in hearing you spoken of, and in good read- 
ing. I do not doubt you will be astonished, Sir, by such 
resistance, and by so long a course of inconstancy; so many 
graces, so much ingratitude ; but the sequel will astonish 
you still more, when you shall see this manner of acting 
grow stronger with my age, and that reason, far from 
correcting so irrational a procedure, has served only to 
give more force and more scope to my sins. It seemed, 
my God, that you doubled your graces as my ingrati- 
tudes increased. There went on in me what goes on in 
the siege of towns. You were besieging my heart, and I 
thought only of defending it against your attacks. I put 
up fortifications to that miserable place, redoubling each 
day my iniquities to hinder you from taking it. When it 
seemed you were about to be victorious over this ungrateful 
heart, I made a cross-battery, I put up barriers to arrest 
your bounties and to hinder the course of your graces. It 
required nothing less than you to break them down, my 
divine Love, who by your sacred fire were more powerful 
than even death, to which my sin has so oftentimes re- 
duced me. 

I cannot endure people saying we are not free to resist 
grace. I have had only too long and sad experience of my 

■34 MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 

liberty. It is true that there are graces gratuitous and 
active, vrhich have no need of man's liberty, since they are 
iTeceived even without a man's knowledge, who knows 
nothing of them till he receives them. I had so feeble a 
will for good that the least attack overthrew me. When 
the occasion no longer offered, I thought not of evil, and 
opened my ears to grace. But on the least occasion I 
gave way, and shut all the avenues of my heart in order 
not to hear your secret voice that called me, my God ; 
and, far from flying the occasion, I sought it, and gave way 
to it. 

It is true our liberty is very disastrous to us. You 
maintained over me, my God, a crucifying conduct to 
make me return to you, of which I knew not how to make 
proper use ; for I have been in troubles from my tender 
youth, either through illnesses or through persecutions. 
The maid who had care of me used to strike me when 
settling my hair, and never made me turn round except 
with a slap. Everything was in concert to make me 
suffer. But in place of turning to you, my God, I 
fretted and my spirit became embittered. My father knew 
nothing of all this ; for his love for me was so great, he 
would not have allowed it. I loved him much, but, at 
the same time, I was so much afraid of him, I did not 
speak to him of anything. My mother often complained 
of me to him, but he had only one answer, ** There are 
twelve hours in the day; she will be converted." This 
liarsh treatment was not the worst for my soul, although 
it much embittered my temper, which was very mild. But 
what caused my ruin was that, being unable to endure 
persons who ill-treated mo, I took refuge with those who 
caressed me to my destruction. 

My father, seeing I was grown, placed me for Lent 
with the Ursulines, in order that I should have my first 
■Communion at Easter, when I should complete eleven years 
of age. He placed me in the hands of his daughter, my 


very clear sister, who redoubled her cares that I might 
perform this action with all possible preparation. I thought 
only, my God, of giving myself to you once for all. I 
often felt the combat between my good inclinations and 
my evil habits. I even performed some penances. As 
I was almost always with my sister, and the boarders 
of the grown class with whom I was, although I was very 
far from their age, were very reasonable, I became very 
reasonable with them. It was surely a murder to bring 
me up ill, for I had a natural disposition much inclined to 
good, and I loved good things ; a reasonable conduct 
suited me. I let myself be easily won by gentleness, and 
my sister, without using harshness, made me unresistingly 
do all she wished. At last, on Easter Day I made my first 
Communion (after a general confession) with much joy and 
devotion. Until Pentecost I remained in that house, but 
as my other sister was mistress of the second class, she 
required that in her week I should be in her class. The 
utterly different manners of m}-- two sisters cooled my first 
fervour. I no longer felt this new ardour, my God, 
that you had made me taste in my first Communion. 
Alas ! it lasted but a short time, for my troubles returned. 
I was withdrawn from the convent. 

My mother, seeing I was very tall for my age and more 
to her taste than usual, only thought of bringing me out, 
making me see company, and dressing me well. She took 
a regrettable delight in that beauty you had given me, my 
God, only that you might be praised and blessed for it, 
and which has yet been for me a source of pride and vanity. 
Numbers of proposals were made, but as I was only twelve 
years old, my father would not listen to them. 

I greatly loved reading, and I shut myself up alone 
a,lmost every day in order to read in quiet. What finished 
in gaining me enth-ely to God, at least, for a time, was 
that a nephew of my father (whose life is written in the 
account of foreign missions under the name of M. de 

26 MADAME GUTON. [Part I. 

Cbamcsson, although bis namo ^vas De Toissi) visited us 
on his way to Cochin China with the Bishop of Heliopolis. 
I was not at the house, and, eontrar}' to my usual practice, 
I had gone to walk with my companions. When I returned 
he had already gone. They gave me an account of his 
sanctity, and the things he had said. I was so touched, 
that I was near dying of grief at it. I wept all the rest 
of the day and the night. I got up in the early morning 
and went to visit my confessor in great trouble. I said ta 
him, "What, my Father! shall it be said that I am the 
only one in my famil}^ to be damned ? Alas ! aid me 
to save myself! " He was greatly astonished to see me so 
afflicted, and did his best to console me ; for he did not 
believe me so wicked as I was, because at my worst time 
I had docility, and obeyed very exactly. I was careful to 
confess often, and since I went to him my life was more 
orderly. Love, how many times had you knocked at 
the door of my heart, which did not open to you ? How 
many times have you frightened it by sudden deaths ! but 
that made only a passing impression. I returned at once 
to my infidelities. You caught me this time, and I can 
say you carried ofif my heart. Alas ! what grief did I not 
feel at having displeased you ! what regrets ! what sobs ! 
"Who would not have believed, at seeing me, that my con- 
version would have lasted as long as my life ? Why did 
you not take this heart, my God ? I gave it to you so 
truly. Or, if you did take it then, why did you afterwards 
let it escape ? Were you not powerful enough to retain it ? 
But perhaps you wished, in leaving me to myself, to make 
your mercy shine forth, and that the depth of my iniquity 
should serve as the trophy to your goodness. I made 
a general confession with a great feeling of sorrow. I told, 
it seems to me, all that I knew with torrents of tears. I 
became so changed I was not to be recognized. I would 
not have committed the least fault voluntarily, and they 
found nothing for absolution when 1 confessed. I disclosed 


even the smallest defects, and God gave me the grace to 
conquer myself in many things. There was only a remnant 
of the hastiness I had trouble to conquer. Whenever 
through this same hastiness I had given trouble to any of 
the servants, I asked pardon for it, in order to conquer at 
the same time my anger and my pride, for anger is the 
daughter of pride. A very humble person does not give 
way to anger, because nothing offends him. As it is pride 
which dies last in our soul, hastiness is also externally that 
which perishes last ; but a soul truly annihilated can no 
longer find anger in herself. She would require to make 
an effort to be vexed, and though she should wish it, she 
would feel clearly that this anger would be a body without 
a soul, and that it would have no correspondence with the 
central depth, nor even any emotion in the more super- 
ficial part. 

There are persons who, because they are filled with an 
unction of grace and a very sweet peace from the com- 
mencement of the passive way of light and love, believe 
themselves to have attained this ; but they are much 
deceived, as they will easily discover if they will carefully 
examine two things. The first that, if their natural 
character is very quick and violent (for I do not speak 
of apathetic temperaments), they will remark that from 
time to time they have outbursts in which trouble and 
agitation have some part, and which at that time are even 
useful to humiliate and to annihilate them ; but when the 
annihilation is effected, all this disappears and becomes as 
if impossible. Moreover, they will experience that often- 
times there arises in them certain movements of anger, 
but the sweetness of grace restrains and arrests them by a 
secret violence, and they would easily escape if they gave 
it some free course. There are persons who think them- 
selves very gentle, because nothing opposes them. It is 
not of those I am speaking, for the gentleness which has 
never been tried is oftentimes a mask of frcntleness. 

28 MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 

Therefore those persons who by themselves appear saints 
are no sooner tried by opposition than one sees in them a 
strange number of defects, which they thought dead, and 
which were only asleep because nothing waked them uj). 

I shut m3"self up all day to read and pray ; I gave all I 
had to the poor, taking even the house linen to make up 
for them. I taught them the Catechism, and, when m}-- 
father and my mother were absent, I made them eat with 
me, and helped them with great respect. At this time I 
read the works of St. Francis de Sales and the Life of 
Madame de Chantal. It was there that I learned that 
people prayed. I begged my confessor to teach me to do 
it, and, as he did not do so, I endeavoured to do it by 
myself the best I could. 

I could not succeed in it, as it then appeared to me, 
because I could not imagine anything, and I was persuaded 
that without forming to one's self distinctions and much 
reasoning one could not pray. This difficulty for a long time 
caused me much trouble. I was, however, very assiduous at 
it, and I earnestly begged God to give me the gift of prayer. 
All that I saw written in the Life of Madame de Chantal de- 
lighted me, and I was so childish I thought I ought to do all 
that I saw there. All the vows she had made I made also ; 
as that of aiming always at the most perfect, and doing the 
will of God in all things. I was not yet twelve years of 
age ; nevertheless I took the discipline according to my 
strength. One day, w^hen I read she had placed the name 
of Jesus on her heart, in order to follow the counsel of the 
Bridegroom, " Place me as a seal upon thy heart," and 
that she had taken a red-hot iron on which was engraved 
that holy name, I remained very afflicted at not being able 
to do the same. I bethought me of writing this sacred 
and adorable name in large characters on a morsel of 
paper ; with ribbons and a big needle I fixed it to my 
skin in four i)laces, and it continued for a long time fixed 
in this manner. 


My only thought was to l>ecome a nun, and I went very 
often to the Visitation, to beg them to be willing to receive 
me ; for the love I had for St. Francis de Sales did not 
allow me to think of other communities. I used then to 
slip away from the house to go to these nuns, and I urged 
them very strongly to receive me ; but although they were 
extremely desirous of having me, and regarded it even as a 
temporal advantage, they never dared give me admittance 
into their house, as well because they much feared my 
father, who was known to love me specially, as because 
of my extreme j^outh — I was then hardly twelve years old. 
There was then at our house a niece of my father, to whom 
I am under very great obligations. She was very virtuous, 
and fortune, which had not been favourable to her father, 
placed her in some sort of dependence on mine. She 
discovered my intention and the extreme desire I had to 
become a nun. As my father had been absent for some 
time, and my mother was ill, and I was under her care, she 
feared being accused of having encouraged this idea, or at 
least of having entertained it ; for my father so greatly 
feared it that, although he would not for anything in 
the world hinder a true vocation, he could not without 
shedding tears hear it said I should be a nun. My mother 
would have been more indifferent. My cousin went to 
my confessor to tell him to forbid me going to the Visita- 
tion. He dared not do this out and out, for fear of setting 
that community against him ; for they believed me already 
one of theirs. When I went to confession he would not 
absolve me, on the ground that I went to the Visitation 
by myself and by roundabout streets. In my innocence 
I thought I had committed a frightful crime, for absolution 
had never been refused me. I returned so afflicted my 
cousin could not comfort me. I did not cease weeping till 
the next day, when at early morning I went to my confessor. 
1 told him I could not live without absolution ; I begged 
him to grant it to me. There was no penance I would not 

30 MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 

have performed to obtaiu it. He gave it to me at once. I 
still, however, wished to be a nun, and I urgently begged my 
mother to take me there, but she would not for fear of vex- 
ing my father, who was absent, and she always put it oft till 
his return. As I saw I could gain nothing, I counterfeited 
the wi'iting of my mother, and I forged a letter in which she 
begged those ladies to receive me, making excuse, on the 
ground of illness, for not bringing me herself. But the 
prioress, who was a relative of my mother and well knew 
her writing, discovered at once my innocent deceit. 

CiiM'. v.] AUTOBIOGllAPiJY. 31 


My father bad no sooner returned than he fell seriously ill. 
I constituted myself his nurse. He was in a wing of the 
house separated from that of my mother, who seldom came 
to see him, as well because she was still weak as because 
she feared, perhaps, a relapse. Being alone with him, I 
had every opportunity of rendering him all the services I 
was capable of, and I gave him all the marks of affection 
he could desire of me. I have no doubt my attention was 
very agreeable to him, for as he loved me extremely, all I 
did was very pleasant to him. When he was not looking I 
used to go and empty his basins, seizing the time there were 
no valets there, as well to mortify myself as to honour 
what Jesus Christ says, that he had come to serve and not 
to be served. When he made me read to him, I read with 
so much devotion he was surprised. I still continued 
my prayer and the Office of the Virgin, which I had not 
missed saying since my first Communion. I remembered 
the instructions my sister had given me, and ejaculatory 
prayers she had taught me. She had taught me to praise 
you, my God, in all your works. All that I saw 
instructed me to love you. If it rained, I wished all the 
drops of water were changed into love and into praise. My 
heart insensibly nourished itself with your love, and my 
mind was occupied with remembering you. I united 
myself to all the good that was done upon the earth, and I 

32 MADAME GUYOX. [Paut I. 

-would have wished to have the heart of all mankind to love 
you. This habit rooted itself so strongly iu me that I 
preserved it even in the midst of my greatest inconstancy. 

My cousin was not a little useful in keeping me in 
these good sentiments ; for, as I was often with her and I 
loved her, and she took gi-eat care of me and treated me 
with much gentleness, my spirit became again gentle and 
reasonable. Perhaps I fell into an extreme, for I so 
strongly attached myself to her that I used to follow her 
through the house wherever she went, for I greatly liked to 
be treated with gentleness and reason. I thought myself 
in another world. It is true children should never have 
near them any but reasonable persons, who are in no way 
passionate. This attachment appeared to me very right 
for a person who had been given me for my guidance ; for 
her fortune not being equal either to her birth or her 
virtue, she did with charity and affection that which her 
present condition imposed upon her. I did not think I 
was committing an excess, yet my mother thought, in 
loving my cousin so strongly, I should love her less. The 
Devil so well managed with his artifices that my mother, 
who previously trusted me much to myself, and even, 
when I passed days without entering her room except at 
bedtime, made no inquiries as to where I was, being 
satisfied I was in the house, wished me to remain always 
with her, and would hardly ever leave me with m^- cousin. 
My cousin fell ill, and my mother took the opportunity to 
send her back to her own house, which was for me a ver^- 
serious blow, both for grace and for nature. Although my 
mother thus behaved, she was none the less very virtuous ; 
but God permitted this to try me, for my mother w^as one 
of the most charitable women of her age. If there was an 
excess in this virtue, one might say hers was excessive. 
She used to give not only what was to spare, but even the 
necessaries of the house. No poor person was ever sent 
away by her, nor any destitute one ever applied to her 

Chap. V.] AUTOBIOGRArHY. 33 

•without receiving help. She furnished poor artisans with 
the means of carrying on their work, and poor traders with 
the means of supplying their shops. I think it is from 
her I have inherited charity and love of the poor, for God 
gave me the grace to succeed her in this holy exercise. 
There was not in the town or its neighbourhood any one 
who did not benefit by her charity. She has sometimes 
even given the last pistole that was in the house, without 
losing or failing in confidence, in spite of the great 
establishment she had to maintain. Her faith was living, 
and she had a very great devotion to the Holy Virgin. 
She meditated every day during the time of a Mass. She 
never missed repeating the Office of the Virgin, and all she 
wanted was a director who would introduce her to the 
inner life, without which all virtues are weak and 
languishing. What caused me to have so much liberty 
as I have mentioned is that, when I was little, my mother 
relied too much on the care of the maids, and, when I was 
grown, she trusted too much to my own conduct, and, 
being assured I loved to be alone to read, she was satisfied 
at knowing I was in the house, without troubling herself 
further; for as to going out, she almost never gave me 
liberty, which is a great thing for a girl. The habit I hnd 
acquired of remaining at home was very useful to me after 
my marriage, as I shall tell in its proper place. Mj 
mother was not, then, so much at fault in leaving me to 
myself ; the fault she committed was in not keeping me in 
her room with an honourable liberty, and not finding out 
more often the part of the house in which I was. 

After the departure of my cousin I remained still for 
some time in the sentiments of piety of w^hich I have 
spoken. One grace that God gave me was a great facility 
in pardoning injuries, which surprised my confessor ; for, 
knowing some young ladies spoke of me unfavourably out 
•of mere envy, I used to speak good of them when I had an 
opportunity. I fell ill of a double-tertian fever, which lasted 

VOL. I. D 


four months, ^lieu I suffered considerably, as well from 
vomiting as from other troubles caused by the fever. I 
had sufficient moderation and piety during this fever, 
suffering with much patience. I continued the manner of 
life of which I have spoken above as long as I continued 
to praj'. About a year or eleven months after, we went to 
spend some days in the country. My father took with us 
one of his relatives who was a very accomplished young 
gentleman. He had a great wish to marry me, but my 
father, who had resolved not to marry me to any of my 
relatives, owing to the difficulty of obtaining dispensation, 
unless false or frivolous reasons were alleged, opposed it. 
As this young gentleman was very devoted to the Holy 
Virgin, and used to say her Office every day, I said it with 
him, and, in order to have time, I gave up prayer, and this 
was the source of my troubles. I still for a time preserved 
the spu'it of piety, for I used to go and look for the little 
shepherd-girls to instruct them and teach them to pray 
to you, my God ; but this remnant of piety was not 
nom-ished by prayer. I insensibly relaxed. I became cold 
to you. All my former faults came back, and I added a 
frightful vanity. The love I commenced to have for myself 
extinguished what remained in me of your love. I did not 
entirely give up prayer without asking my confessor. I 
told him I thought it better to say every day the Office of 
the Virgin than to pray ; that, having time only for one and 
not for both, it appeared to me I ought to prefer the Office 
to prayer ; and I did not see, my God, it was a trick of 
your enemy and mine to withdraw me from you, and a 
means of involving me insensibly in the snares he was 
laying for me ; for I could have had enough time for both, 
having no other occupation than what I chose for myself. 
My confessor, who was very easy and not a man of prayer, 
consented to it, to my ruin. my God, if one knew the 
value of prayer, and the advantage the soul reaps from 
conversing with you, and its importance for salvation. 


every one would be assiduous in it. It is a strong place, 
into wbicli the enemy can never enter. He may, indeed, 
attack this place, besiege it, make much noise around its 
walls, but, provided one is faithful not to leave it, ho 
cannot do us any ill. Children should be taught the 
necessity of prayer as they are taught the necessity of 
their salvation ; but, alas ! people are unfortunately content 
to tell them that there is a Paradise and a Hell, that they 
must endeavour to avoid the latter and aim at the 
possession of the former, and they are not taught the 
shortest and easiest road of arriving there. Prayer is 
nothing else than the pathway to Paradise, and the path- 
way to Paradise is prayer — but praj^er of the heart, which 
everybody is capable of, and not of those reasonings which 
are a play of the intellect, a result of study, an exercise of 
the imagination, which, while filling the mind with vague 
things, rarely and only for moments fix it, and do not 
warm the heart, which remains still cold and languishing. 
Oh, ye poor people, intellects coarse and foolish, children 
without reason and without knowledge, dull minds which 
can retain nothing, come, practise prayer, and you will 
become wise ! Strong men, clever and rich, have you not 
all, great as you are, a heart capable of loving what is 
suited to you, and hating what is contrary to you ? Love, 
love the Sovereign Good, hate the sovereign evil, and you 
will become wise ! When you love any one, do you know 
the reasons of love and its definitions? Assuredly not. 
You love because your heart is made to love what it finds 
lovable. Is there anything more lovable than God? 
You know well enough that he is lovable ; do not tell me, 
then, that you do not know him. You know he created 
you and died for you ; but if these reasons are not enough, 
which of you has not some want, some ill, or some disgrace ? 
Which of you cannot tell his ill and ask a remedy for it ? 
Come, then, to this source of all good, and without amusing 
yourselves, complaining to feeble and powerless creatures 

36 MADAME GDYON. [Part I. 

■who cannot comfort you, come to prayer, to open out to 
God your troubles, to ask from him his graces ; and above 
all, come to love him. No one can escape from loving ; for 
none can live without a heart, nor the heart without love. 
Why amuse yourselves with seeking reasons for loving 
Love itself? Let us love without reasoning about love, and 
we shall find ourselves filled with love before the rest have 
found the reasons that lead to love. Taste, and you shall 
see ; taste love, and you will be more wise in love than the 
cleverest philosophers. In love, as in everything else, 
experience teaches better than reasoning. Come, drink at 
this source of living water, instead of amusing yourselves 
with the broken cisterns of the creature, which, far from 
quenching, augment your thirst ! Oh, if you had drunk at 
this fountain, you would no more seek elsewhere the means 
of satisfying your thirst ! for you would no more have 
thirst for the things of earth, provided you continue 
always to go and draw from this source. But if you quit 
it, alas ! your enemy has the upper hand. He will give you 
his poisoned waters, which, while making you taste an 
apparent sweetness, will deprive you of life. 

It is what I did when I gave up prayer. I left God. 
I became that vine exposed to pillage, whose broken-down 
hedges admit all the passers-by to ravage it. I commenced 
to seek in the creature what I had found in God. You 
abandoned me to myself, because I had first abandoned 
you, and, while permitting me to be plunged in the abyss, 
you wished to make me understand the need I had of 
drawing near to you by prayer. You say you will destroy 
those adulterous souls who separate themselves from you. 
Alas ! their separation itself constitutes their destruction, 
since, in withdrawing from you, Divine Sun, they enter 
into the religion of darkness, into the cold of death, whence 
they will never recover if you do not draw near to them, 
and if, by your divine light, you do not come to illumine 
gradually their darkness, and by your vivifying warmth to 


melt their deadly ice, and to restore life to them. I fell 
into the greatest of all misfortunes ; for I still wandered 
from you, my God, who are my light and my life, and 
you removed further from me. You withdrew yourself 
gradually from a heart which left you, and you are so 
good that it seems that you abandoned it only with regret ; 
but when this heart consents to be converted, ah ! you return 
to it with giant steps. It is an experience I have made, 

my God, which will be for me an eternal witness of 
your goodness and my ingratitude. I became then yet 
more hasty than I had ever been, because my age gave 
more strength to my passions. I often lied. I felt my 
heart corrupted and vain. There was no longer any piety in 
my soul, but a state of lukewarmness and real undevout- 
ness, although I still preserved the external with much care, 
and the habit I had acquired of behaving in church with 
modesty, made me appear other than I was. Vanity, 
which hitherto had left me at peace, seized upon my spirit. 

1 began to spend a long time before the looking-glass. I 
found so much pleasure in seeing myself, that it seemed to 
me others were justified in finding it. This love of myself 
became so strong, that in my heart I had only scorn for 
all others of my sex. In place of making use, my God, 
of that exterior you had given me as a means of loving you 
more, it was to me the source of vain complaisance. What 
ought to win my gratitude, furnished my ingratitude. I 
found that there was nothing but what was beautiful in my 
exterior, and I did not see that it covered a horrible dung- 
hill. All this made me so vain, that I doubt if there ever 
was a person who interiorly carried vanity so far ; for as to 
the exterior, I had an affected modesty which would have 
deceived anybody'. 

The esteem I entertained for myself made me discover 
faults in all the rest of my sex. I had eyes only to 
see my exterior good qualities, and to discern the weak 
points of others. I concealed my defects from myself, 

38 MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 

an,], if I remarked any, they appeared to me very trifling 
in comparison with those I saw in others, and I even 
excused them in my mind, picturing them to myself as 
perfections. The whole idea I had of myself and of others 
was false. I loved reading madly : I emploj^ed day and 
night at it. Sometimes the next day dawned and I 
was still reading, so that for several months I had 
completely lost the habit of sleeping. The hooks I 
ordinarily read were Romances. I loved them to folly. I 
was eager to find out their conclusion, thinking there to 
discover something, but I found there nothing but a hunger 
for reading. These books are strange inventions to ruin 
youth, for though one should commit no other evil but to 
lose time, is not that too much ? I believe this was the 
greatest fault I committed in it. I was not prevented ; on 
the contrary, people have a foolish idea that they teach 
one to speak correctly. Yet, my God, your extreme 
goodness led you to seek me from time to time. You were 
knocking at the door of my heart. I was often seized with 
sharp sorrow and abundance of tears. I was afflicted at a 
state so different from that I had found with you, my 
God. But my tears were without effect, and my sorrow 
vain. I could not of myself withdraw from such a disastrous 
state. I would have wished that a hand as charitable as 
powerful had drawn me out of it ; but for myself, I had not 
the strength to do it. Alas ! if I had had a confessor who 
examined the cause of my ill, he would doubtless have 
applied the remedy, which was merely to make me betake 
myself again to prayer ; but he was content to rebuke me 
severely, to give me some vocal praj'er to repeat, and he 
did not remove the cause of the ill — he did not give me the 
true remedy. " I was," said the prophet, "in a deep pit 
of mud, from which I could not get out." They repri- 
manded me because I was in this pit, but no one stretched 
to me a hand to withdraw me from it, and when I tried 
to make vain efforts to get out, I sunk myself the deeper, 

€hap. v.] autobiography. 39 

and the trouble I bad taken served only to make me see 
my powcrlcssncss, and render me more miserable and 
more afflicted. Alas ! bow this sad experience has made 
me compassionate for sinners ! and bow it bas sbown me 
wbence it comes tberc are so few who correct tbemselves 
and who emerge from tbat miserable state to which they 
are reduced, because people are content with crying out 
against their vices and terrifying them with menaces of 
future punishment ! These cries and these menaces at the 
commencement make some impression on their minds, but 
a band is not given them to come out from where they are. 
They make feeble efforts, but after having many times 
experienced their powerlessness and the inutility of their 
attempts, they gradually lose the will to make new efforts, 
which appear to them as fruitless as the first. Hence it 
comes that, in consequence of this, all one can say to them 
is without effect, though one should preach incessantly. 
We hear nothing else but outcry against sinners, yet 
no one is converted. If, when a sinner goes to confession, 
he was given the true remedy, which is prayer ; if he was 
obliged every day to place himself before God in the con- 
dition of a criminal, to ask from him the strength to 
emerge from this condition, — he would soon be changed : 
that is the way to stretch forth a hand to a man, to drag 
him from the mud. But the Devil has falsely persuaded 
the doctors and wise men of the age that one must be 
perfectly converted in order to pray ; and as prayer is the 
efficacious means for conversion, and they will not give it, 
this is the reason there is no durable and sincere con- 
version. It is only against prayer and those who practise 
it the Devil breaks forth, because he knows it is the true 
moans of carrying off his prey from him. People may 
practise all the austerities they please, the Devil lets them 
practise them, and persecutes neither those who prescribe 
them nor those who practise them, but one no sooner 
speaks of prayer, one no sooner enters upon the life of the 

40 MADAME GUYOX. [Part I. 

spirit, than one must be prepared for strange contradictions. 
Who says, " a life of prayer," says, " a life of crosses." If 
there is in the "world a spiritual soul, it seems that all the 
crosses, all the persecutions, all the scorn, are reserved for 
her. If there is in a monastery a soul of great prayer, all 
the ill will is for her, all the humiliations are for her — 
at least when the prayer is profound and true. If a soul 
is reputed to be one of great prayer, and things should be 
otherwise, and she should be applauded and considered, I 
say either her prayer is not true, or, if it is, that she is 
little advanced in it ; that they are persons who walk by 
light and striking gifts, and not by the narrow path of 
faith, of renunciation, of interior death, and of annihilation ; 
and that the prayers of these persons are only in the powers 
and in the senses, and not in the centre. I sometimes 
wander, but as I give myself up to what carries me away, I 
am not particularly careful to pursue the narrative exactly. 
Pitiable, then, as was the state to which I was reduced 
by my infidelities, and the little help I had from my con- 
fessor, I did not fail to say every day my vocal prayers, 
to make confession pretty often, and to communicate 
almost every fortnight. I was sometimes in church weep- 
ing and praying to the Holy Virgin to obtain my conversion. 
I loved to hear speak of you, my God, and if I had 
found persons to speak to me, I should never have wearied 
of listening to them. "When my father spoke thereof I was 
transported with joy, and when he went with my mother 
on some pilgrimage, and started very early, either I did 
not go to bed to avoid being surprised by sleep, or I gave 
all I had to the maids in order they should wake me up. 
My father always at that time spoke of you, my God, which 
gave me extreme pleasure. All other pleasures were then 
tasteless to me. I would have preferred this to every- 
thing. I was very charitable ; I loved the poor ; and yet I 
had all the defects of which I have spoken. God, how 
reconcile things so opposed '? 



We subsequently came to Paris, where my vanity increased. 
Nothing was spared to bring me out. I paraded a vain 
beauty ; I thirsted to exhibit myself and to flaunt my pride. 
I wished to make myself loved without loving anybody. I 
was sought for by many persons who seemed good matches 
for me ; but you, my God, who would not consent to my 
ruin, did not permit things to succeed. My father dis- 
covered difficulties that you yourself made spring up for 
my salvation. For if I had married those persons, I 
should have been extremely exposed, and my vanity would 
have had opportunity for displaying itself. There was 
a person who had sought me in marriage for some years, 
whom my father for family reasons had always refused. 
His manners were a little distasteful to my vanity, yet the 
fear they had I should leave the country, and the great 
wealth of this gentleman, led my father, in spite of all his 
own objections and those of my mother, to accept him for 
me. It was done without my being told, on the vigil of St. 
Francis de Sales, 28th January, 1664, and they even made 
me sign the articles of marriage without telling me what 
they were. Although I was well pleased to be married, 
because I imagined thereby I should have full liberty, and 
that I should be delivered from the ill-treatment of my 
mother, which doubtless I brought on myself by want 

42 MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 

of docility, you, however, my God, bad quite other 
views, and the state in which I found myself afterwards 
frustrated my hopes, as I shall hereafter tell. Although I 
was well pleased to be married, I nevertheless continued 
all the time of my engagement, and even long after my 
marriage, in extreme confusion. It came from two causes. 
The first was that natural modesty I never lost. I was 
very reserved with men. The other was my vanity ; for 
though the husband provided for me was above what I 
merited, I did not believe him such, and the style of 
those who had previously sought me appeared to me very 
different. Their rank dazzled me, and, as in all things I 
consulted only my vanity, all that did not flatter this was 
insupportable to me. This vanity, however, was useful to 
me, for it prevented me falling into those irregularities 
which cause the ruin of families. I would not have been 
willing to do any external act that would have exposed me 
to blame, and I always guarded so well the exterior, that 
they could not blame my conduct ; for as I was modest 
at church, and I never went out without my mother, and 
the reputation of the house was great, I passed for good. 
I did not see my betrothed till two or three days before the 
marriage. I caused Masses to be said all the time I was 
engaged, to know your will, my God ; for I desired to do 
it at least in that. Oh, goodness of my God, to suffer me 
at that time, and to permit me to pray with as much 
boldness as if I had been one of your friends ! — I who 
treated you as if your greatest enemy ! 

The joy at this marriage was universal in our town, and 
in this rejoicing I was the only person sad. I could 
neither laugh like the others, nor even eat, so oppressed 
"was my heart. I knew not the cause of my sadness ; but, 
my God, it was as if a presentiment 3'ou were giving me of 
what should befall me. Hardly w^as I married when the 
recollection of my desire to be a nun came to overwhelm 
me. All those who came to compliment me the day after 


my marriage could not help rallying me because I wept 
bitterly, and I said to tlicin, " Alas ! I liad once so desired 
to be a nun ; why am I then now married ? and by what 
fatality is this happened to me ? " I was no sooner at 
home with my new husband than I clearly saw it would be 
for me a house of sorrow. I was obliged to change my 
conduct, for their manner of living was very diflferent from 
that in my father's house. My mother-in-law, who had 
been long time a widow, thought only of saving, while in 
my father's house we lived in an exceedingly noble manner. 
Everything was showy and evcrthing on a liberal scale, 
and all my husband and my mother-in-law called extrava- 
gance, and I called respectability, was observed there. I 
was very much surprised at this change, and the more so 
as my vanity would rather have increased than cut down 
expenditure. I was more than fifteen years — in my 
sixteenth year — when I was married. My astonishment 
greatly increased when I saw I must give up what I had 
with so much trouble acquired. At my father's house we 
had to live with much refinement, learn to speak correctly. 
All I said was there applauded and made much of. Here 
I was not listened to, except to be contradicted and to be 
blamed. If I spoke well, they said it was to read them 
a lesson. If any one came and a subject was under dis- 
cussion, while my father used to make me speak, here, if 
I wished to express my opinion, they said it was to dispute, 
and they ignominiously silenced me, and from morning to 
night they chided me. They led my husband to do the 
same, and he was only too well disposed for it. I should 
have a difficulty in writing these sorts of things to you, 
which cannot be done without wounding charity, if you 
had not forbidden me to omit anj'thing, and if you had not 
absolutely commanded me to explain everything, and give 
all particulars. One thing I ask you, before going farther, 
which is, not to regard things from the side of the creature, 
for this would make persons appear more faulty than they 

44 MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 

were ; for my mother-in law was virtuous, and my husband 
was religious and had no vice. But we must regard all 
things in God, who permitted these things for my salvation, 
and because he would not destroy me. I had, besides, so 
much pride that if a diflferent conduct had been observed 
with me, I would have been upheld in that, and I should 
not, perhaps, have turned to God, as I did eventually, 
through the wretchedness to which I was reduced by 

To return to my subject, I will say that my mother-in- 
law conceived such a hostility to me, that in order to annoy 
me she made me do the most humiliating things ; for her 
temper was so extraordinary, from not having conquered it 
in her youth, that she could not live with an}' one. There 
was another cause also that, from not praying, and only 
repeating vocal prayers, she did not see these sorts of 
defects, or else, while seeing them, from not gathering 
strength by prayer, she was unable to rid herself of them ; 
and it was a pity, for she had merit and cleverness. I 
was thus made the victim of her tempers. Her whole 
occupation was to continually thwart me, and she inspired 
her son with the same sentiments. They insisted that 
persons far below me should take precedence, in order to 
annoy me. My mother, who was very sensitive on the 
point of honour, could not endure this, and when she learned 
it from others — for I never said anything of it — she found 
fault with me, thinking I did it from not knowing how to 
maintain my rank, that I had no spirit, and a thousand 
other things of this kind. I dared not tell her how I was 
situated, but I was dying of vexation, and what increased 
it still more was the recollection of the persons who had 
sought me in marriage, the difference of their temper and 
their manner of acting, the love and esteem they had for 
me, and their gentleness and politeness : this was very 
hard for me to bear. My mother-in-law incessantly sjioke 
to me disparagingly of my father and my mother, and I 


never went to see them but I bad to endure tbis disagree- 
able talk on my return. On tbe otber band, my motber 
complained of me tbat I did not see ber often enougb. 
Sbe said I did not love ber, tbat I attacbed myself too 
mucb to my busband ; tbus I bad mucb to suffer from 
all sides. Wbat increased still more my crosses was tbat 
my motber related to my motber-in-law tbe troubles I bad 
given ber in my cbildbood, so tbat tbe moment I spoke, 
tbey reproacbed me witb tbis, and told me I was a wicked 
cbaracter. My busband wisbed me to remain all day in 
tbe room of my motber-in-law, witbout being allowed to go 
to my apartment : I had not therefore a moment for seclu- 
sion or breathing a little. Sbe spoke disparagingly of me 
to every one, hoping thereby to diminish the esteem and 
affection each had for me, so that she put insults upon me 
in the presence of tbe best society. That did not produce 
the effect she hoped, for those in whose presence it took 
place preserved for me the greater esteem as they saw me 
suffer patiently. It is true sbe discovered the secret of 
extinguishing the vivacity of my mind and making me 
become quite dull, so that I could no more be recognized. 
Those who bad not seen me before used to say, " "Wbat ! 
is that tbe person who passed for being clever ? Sbe does 
not say two words. It is a pretty picture." I was not 
then sixteen years old. I was so timid I dared not go out 
without my mother-in-law, and in ber presence I could not 
speak. I did not know what I said, so apprehensive was I 
of vexing her and drawing upon myself some harsh words. 
For crown of affliction I bad a maid they bad given me, 
who was quite in their interest. Sbe kept me in sight 
like a duenna, and strangely ill-treated me. Ordinarily I 
suffered in patience an evil that I could not binder, but at 
other times I lost my control so as to make some answer ; 
which was for a long time a source of real crosses to me 
and of bitter reproaches. "When I went out, tbe valets bad 
orders to give an account of all I did. It was then I 

46 MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 

commenced to eat the bread of tears. If I -^as at table 
they did things to me that covered me with confusion. I 
betook mj'self to my tears and had a double shame — one, at 
what was said to me, the other, at not being able to restrain 
my tears. I had no one with whom to share my grief, who 
might aid me to bear it. I wished to tell something of it 
to my mother, and that caused me so many new crosses that 
I resolved to have no other confidante of my vexations than 
myself. It was not through harshness that my husband 
treated me so, but from his hasty and violent temper ; for 
he loved me even passionately. What my mother-in-law 
was continually telling him irritated him. 

It was in a state so every way deplorable, my God, 
that I commenced to conceive the need I had of your 
assistance; for this state was the more perilous for me in 
that outside my own house, finding only admirers and 
persons who flattered me for my ruin, it was to be feared, 
at such a tender age and amidst such strange domestic 
crosses, that I might turn altogether to the outside world 
and choose the path of irregularity. You, my God, by 
your goodness and the love you bore me, made a quite 
contrary use of it. You drew me to you by those redoubled 
blows, and you effected by your crosses what your caresses 
could not do. You even made use, at the commencement 
of my marriage, of my natural pride to keep me in my 
duty. I knew that a woman of honour ought never give 
umbrage to her husband, and for this reason I was so 
extremely circumspect I often pushed matters to excess, 
even to refusing the hand to those who offered it to me — 
and there was one occurrence which, from having pushed 
prudence too far, was near ruining me ; for things were 
taken in the opposite sense, yet my husband knew my 
innocence and the falseness of what m^'' mother-in-law 
wished to impress upon him. I say, then, these severe 
crosses made me return to you, my God. I commenced 
to deplore the sins of my youth ; for since my marriage I 


had only committed one that appeared to mc voluntary — 
the rest were feelings of vanity that I did not wish to have, 
or, if I wished them, my vexatious counterbalanced them. 
Moreover, there were a number that appeared right to my 
defective light, for I was not enlightened on the essence of 
vanity. I fixed only upon its accidents. I endeavoured, 
then, to improve my life by penitence and a general 
confession, the most particular I had yet made. I gave up 
at once all Eomances, although they were at one time my 
passion; it had been weakened some time before my 
marriage by the reading of the Gospel. I found it so 
beautiful, and I discovered in it a character of truth that 
disgusted me with all other books, which appeared to me 
full of lies. I even gave up indifferent books, in order to 
read none but what were profitable. I resumed prayer, 
and I endeavoured not to offend you, my God. I felt 
that, little by little, your love was regaining the supremacy 
in my heart and banishing from it all other love. I had, 
however, a frightful vanity and a very great complaisance 
for myself, which has been my most troublesome and most 
obstinate sin. 

My crosses redoubled each day, and what rendered them 
more painful was that my mother-in-law was not content 
with the sharp words she said to me in public and private, 
but for the smallest things she would continue in a temper 
for a fortnight at a time. I passed a part of my life in 
lamentations when I could be alone, and my grief became 
each day more bitter. I sometimes was carried awa}'' when 
I saw maids who were my servants, and who owed me 
submission, treating me so ill. Nevertheless, I did what I 
could to conquer my temper — a thing that has cost me not 
a little. Such deadly blows diminished my natural 
vivacity to that degree that I became gentle. The 
greater part of the time I was like a lamb that is being 
shorn. I prayed our Lord to help me, and he was my 
resource. As my age was so different from theirs — for my 

48 MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 

husband ^vas twenty-two years my senior — I saw there was 
no chance of changing their temper ; it was strengthened 
with their age. I caused Masses to be said in order that you 
might give me the grace, my God, to adapt myself to it. 
It was what I incessantly asked of you. As I saw all I 
said offended them, and even things at which others would 
have felt themselves obliged, I knew not what to do. One 
day, beside myself with grief — I had only been six months 
married — I took a knife when I was alone to cut off my 
tongue, in order to be no longer obliged to speak to persons 
who made me speak only to have matter for getting into a 
passion. I would have performed this mad operation, if 
you had not suddenly stopped me, my God, and if you 
had not made me see my folly. I prayed you continually, 
I even communicated and had Masses said that I might 
become dumb, such a child was I still. I have had large 
experience of crosses, but I have never found any more 
difficult to bear than that of an unrelaxing contrariety, 
and while one does what one can to eatisfy persons, in 
place of succeeding, to offend by the very things that ought 
to oblige them, and being still compelled to be with them 
from morning to evening, not daring to leave them for a 
moment ; for I have found great crosses overwhelm and 
even deaden anger, but as for continual contrariety, it 
irritates and wakes up a certain bitterness, it produces so 
strange an effect, that one must practise the most extreme 
violence on one's self not to fly into a passion. 

Such was my married life rather that of a slave than of 
a free person. To increase my disgrace, it was discovered, 
four months after my marriage, that my husband was 
gouty. This disease, which doubtless has sanctified him, 
caused me many real crosses both without and within. 
That year he twice had the gout six weeks at a time, and 
it again seized him shortly after, much more severely. At 
last he became so indisposed that he did not leave his 
room, nor often even his bed, which he ordinarily kept 


many months. I watched him with great care, and, 
though I was very young, I did not fail in my duty. I 
even did it to excess. But, alas ! all that did not win me 
their friendship. I had not even the consolation of knowing 
if they were pleased with what I did ; never did they exhibit 
the least sign of it. I deprived myself of all even the most 
innocent diversions to remain near my husband, and I did 
what I thought might please him. Sometimes he tolerated 
me, and I thought myself very happy. At other times I 
was insupportable. My own friends used to say that I was 
indeed of a nice age to be nurse to a sick man ; that it was 
a disgraceful thing not to make use of my talents. I 
answered them that, as I had a husband, I ought to share 
his troubles as well as his wealth. I did not let any 
one know I was suffering, and, as my face appeared content, 
they would have thought me very happy with my husband, 
if he had not sometimes, in the presence of people, let 
bitter words to me escape him. Besides, my mother could 
hardly suffer the assiduity I exhibited to my husband, 
assuring me I was thereby securing unhappiuess for 
myself, and in the end he would exact as a duty what I 
was doing as virtue ; instead of pitying me, she often found 
fault with me. It is true that, to look at things humanly, 
it was a folly to make a slave of myself in this way for 
persons who had no gratitude for it ; but, my God, how 
different were my thoughts from those of all these persons ! 
and how different was that which appeared to them on the 
outside from that which was within ! My husband had 
this foible, that when any one said anything against me, he 
was at once angered, and his natural violence at once took 
lire. It was God's mode of leading me ; for my husband 
was reasonable and loved me. When I was ill he was 
inconsolable, even to a degree I cannot tell ; and yet he did 
not cease to get into passions with me. I believe that, but 
for his mother and that maid of whom I have spoken, I 
should have been very happy with him ; for as to hastiness, 

VOL. I. E 

50 MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 

there is hardly a man who has not plenty of it, and it is 
the duty of a reasonable woman to put up with it quietly 
without increasing it by sharp answers. You made use 
of all these things, my God, for my salvation. Through 
your goodness you have so managed things that I have 
afterwards seen this course was absolutely necessary for 
me, in order to make me die to my vain and haughty 
natural character. I should not have had the strength to 
destroy it myself, if you had not worked for it by an 
altogether wise dispensation of your providence. I urgently'' 
asked patience from you, my God. Nevertheless, I often 
had outbursts, and my quick and hasty natural character 
often betrayed the resolutions I had taken to hold my 
tongue. You permitted it, doubtless, my God, in order 
that my self-love should not nourish itself on my patience ; 
for an outburst of a moment caused me many months of 
humiliation, reproach, and sorrow. It was a matter for 
new crosses. 



This first year I did not make use of my crosses. I was 
still vain. I lied to conceal or to excuse some things, 
because I was strangely afraid. I gave way to anger, 
being unable to approve in my mind what appeared to me 
such unreasonable conduct, especially in what concerned 
the ill-treatment from that maid who attended me. It 
appeared to me an unheard-of thing that they should take 
her side against me when she offended me ; for as for my 
mother-in-law, her great age and position rendered things 
more tolerable. my God, how you made me in the 
end see things with very different eyes ! I found in you 
reasons for suffering, which I had never found in the 
creature, and I saw with complaisance that this unreason- 
able and crucifying conduct was all necessary for me. I 
had still another fault which was common to me and 
almost all other women, and arose from the love I bore 
myself. It was that I could not hear any beautiful woman 
praised in my presence without finding some fault with her, 
and cleverly bringing it to notice, to diminish the good 
they were saying of her ; as if I was esteemed less when 
any one else was esteemed with me. This fault lasted for 
a long time. It is the fruit of a stupid and coarse pride, 
which I had in a supreme degree. What a debt I owe to 
you, my God, for having observed with me the conduct 

62 MADAME QUYON. [Part I. 

that you have ! for if my mother-in-law and my husband 
had applauded me, as was done in my father's house, 
I should have become insupportable from my pride. I 
was careful to go to see the poor. I did what I could to 
conquer my temper, and especially in things which made 
my pride ready to burst. I gave much alms. I was exact 
in my prayer. 

I became pregnant with my first child. During this 
time I was greatly petted as far as the body went, and 
my crosses were in some degree less severe thereby. I 
was so indisposed that I would have excited the com- 
passion of the most indifferent. Moreover, they had 
such a great wish to have children, that they were very 
apprehensive lest I should miscarry. Yet towards the end 
they were less considerate to me, and once, when my 
mother-in-law had treated mo in a very shocking manner, 
I was so malicious as to feign a colic in order to alarm 
them in my turn ; because if I had miscarried they would 
have been inconsolable, so anxious were they to have 
children, for my husband was the only son, and my 
mother-in-law, who was very rich, could have heirs through 
him alone. Nevertheless, when I saw that this gave 
them too much trouble, I said that I was better. One 
could not be more miserable than I was during this 
pregnancy; for besides a continual sickness, I had such 
an extraordinary disgust that, with the exception of some 
fruit, I could not look at food. I had, moreover, continual 
faintings and very severe pain. I was extraordinarily ill 
at my accouchement. As my illness was very long and 
very severe, 1 had an opportunity of practising patience. 
I offered all that to our Lord, and as soon as I had a little 
freedom, it seemed to me I suffered with much content- 
ment. I was very long ill from this confinement, for 
besides the fever, I was so weak that after several weeks 
they could scarcely stir me to make my bed. When I was 
a little better, I had an abscess in the breast, which had to 


be opened in two places, and this caused me much pain. 
All these ills, though violent, seemed to me but the shadows 
of ill in comparison with the troubles I suffered in my 
family, which, far from diminishing, increased each day. 
I was also subject to a very violent headache. During 
this time you increased, my God, both my love for you 
and my patience. It is true that, owing to my afflictions, 
I was so indifferent to life that all the ills, apparently 
mortal, did not frighten me. 

This first confinement improved my appearance, and in 
consequence made me more vain, for although I would not 
have been willing to add art to nature, yet I was very com- 
plaisant to myself. I was glad to be looked at, and, far 
from avoiding occasions for it, I went to promenades ; 
rarely however, and when I was in the streets, I took off 
my mask from vanity, and my gloves, to show my hands. 
Could there be greater silliness ? When I had been thus 
carried away, which happened often enough, I wept 
inconsolably ; but that did not correct me. I also some- 
times went to a ball, where I displayed my vanity in 

In our family there happened an affair of great import- 
ance as to w^orldly means. The loss was very considerable. 
This cost me strange crosses for more than a year ; not 
that I cared anything for the losses, but it seemed to me I 
was the mark for all the bad tempers of the family. An 
entire volume would be necessary to describe what I suffered 
during this time. God, with what pleasure did I sacrifice 
to you that money! and how often have I abandoned myself 
to you, to beg my bread, if you wished it ! My mother-in- 
law was inconsolable. She told me, O my God, to pray to 
you for these things, but it was utterly impossible for me. 
On the contrary, I sacrificed myself to you, urgently praying 
you rather to reduce the family to beggary than permit it 
to offend you. I was vexed with myself for being so de- 
tached from this wealth. I excused my mother-in-law in 

54 MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 

my mind, and I used to sav, " If you Lad taken the trouble 
to watch it, as she has, you would not be so indifferent at 
seeing it carried off. You enjoy what has cost you nothing, 
and you reap what you have not sown." All these thoughts 
could not make me feel these losses. I formed for myself 
agreeable ideas of going to the Alms House, for we also 
lost large sums which were in the Hotel de Yille at Paris. 
It seemed to me even that there was no state so i)cor and 
miserable that I would not have found sweet compared to 
the continual domestic persecution. It is incredible that 
my father, who loved me so tenderly, and whom I honoured 
more than I can say, never knew anything of what I 
suffered. God so permitted it that I should have him 
also opposed to me for some time ; for my mother used 
constantly to tell him I was ungrateful, that I cared nothing 
for them, that I was entirely devoted to the family of my 
husband. All appearances in truth condemned me, for I 
used not to see my father and my mother a quarter of 
what I ought ; but they were ignorant of the captivity I 
was in, and what I had to bear to defend them. This 
talk of my mother, and a disagreeable circumstance that 
happened, altered a little my father's friendship for me. 
This, however, did not continue long. My mother-in-law 
used to reproach me, that no afflictions had ever befallen 
them till I had entered their house ; that all their mis- 
fortunes had come with me. On the other hand, my 
mother wanted to speak to me against my husband, which 
I could not allow. 

I declare it is not without extreme repugnance I tell 
these things of my mother-in-law, and especially of ray 
husband (for my husband is in heaven, and I am certain 
of it) ; I have even some scruples. I do not doubt that 
by indiscretions, by my provoking temper, by certain 
outbursts of hastiness which sometimes escaped me, I 
gave plenty of occasion for all my crosses, so they have 
not the value and merit they would have had had I been 


more perfect. Besides, though I then had what is called 
patience in the world, I had not yet either the taste for or 
love of the cross, and for this reason I committed many 
faults. We must not regard this conduct, which appears 
unreasonable, with purely human eyes. We must go 
higher, and see God thus permitted it for my good, and 
owing to my pride ; for had I been otherwise, I should have 
ruined myself. One cannot write these things with more 
unwillingness than I do, and if I did not fear to disobey, I 
declare I would not proceed further. 

We continued losing in every way, the King cutting 
off several sources of income, besides that other of the 
Hotel de Ville, which I have mentioned. Meditation in 
which state I then was did not give me a true peace in 
the midst of such great troubles. It, indeed, procures 
resignation, but not peace and joy. I, however, practised 
it t"svice a day very exactly, and as I had not that rooted 
presence of God which I have since had, I was subject to 
many wanderings. My pride nevertheless subsisted, and 
sustained itself in spite of so many things which were 
calculated to crush it. I had no one either to console me 
or to counsel me, for the sister who had brought me up was 
then dead — she died two months after my marriage. I had 
no confidence in the other. Life was very tiresome to me, 
and the more so because my passions were very quick ; for 
however I tried to conquer myself, I could not avoid giving 
way to anger, no more than to wishing to please. 

I did not curl my hair, or very little ; I did not even put 
anything on my face, yet I was not the less vain of it. I 
even very seldom looked in the looking-glass, in order not 
to encourage my vanity, and I made a practice of reading 
books of devotion, such as the " Imitation of Jesus Christ" 
and the works of St. Francis de Sales while my hair was 
being combed, so that as I read aloud the servants profited 
by it. Moreover, I let myself be dressed as they wished, 
remaining as they had arranged me — a thing which saves 

56 MADAME GUYON. [Paut I. 

trouble and material ' for vanity. I do not know how 
things were, but people always admired me, and the feelings 
of my vanity reawakened in everything. If on certain days I 
wished to look to better advantage, I failed, and the more I 
neglected myself the better I looked. It was a great stone 
of stumbling for me. How many times, my God, have 
I gone to churches less to pray to you than to be seen 
there ! Other women, who were jealous of me, maintained 
that I painted, and said so to my confessor, who reproved 
me for it, although I assured him to the contrary. I often 
spoke to my own advantage, and I exalted myself with 
pride while lowering others. I sometimes still told lies, 
though I used all my efforts to free myself from this vice. 
These faults diminished slightly, for I pardoned nothing to 
myself, and I was very much afflicted at committing them. 
I wrote them all down, and I made very careful examinations 
to see from one week to another, from one month to 
another, how far I had corrected myself; but, alas! how 
little use was my laboin-, although fatiguing, because I 
placed almost all my confidence in my carefulness ! It is 
not, my God, that I did not ask you with great urgency 
to deliver me from all these evils. I even prayed you to 
guard me, seeing the uselessness of my care, and I protested 
to you, if you did not do it, I should fall back into all my 
sins, and even into greater. My great crosses did not 
detach me from myself. They rendered me very indifferent 
to temporal wealth ; they even made me hate life ; but 
they did not take away those sentiments of vanity, that 
woke up with strength on all the occasions that I had of 
appearing. They were few, owing to the assiduity with 
which I attended on my husband. The church, my God, 
was the place where I was most seen, and where I was 
most beset with sentiments of vanity. It appeared to me 
I would have wished to be otherwise, but it was a feeble 
and languishing will. 

The long absence of my husband, my crosses and my 


vexations, made me resolve to go and see him where ho 
was. My mother-in-law opposed it strongly, but my father 
having wished it, I was let go. On my arrival, I found 
he had been near dying. He was greatly changed by the 
worry, for he was unable to finish his affairs, from not 
being at liberty to attend to them. He was even concealed 
in the Hotel de Longueville, where Madame de Longueville 
showed me great kindness, but as I was much remarked, he 
feared I would cause him to be discovered. That greatly 
troubled him, and he wished me to return home, playing 
the part of the aggrieved ; but love and the long time since 
he had seen me overcoming all other reasons, he made me 
remain with him. He kept me eight days without letting 
me leave his room, through this fear of discovery. 
This was a panic terror, for it had nothing to do with 
his business. But as he feared I would get ill in con- 
sequence, he begged me to go and walk in the garden, 
where I met Madame de Longueville, who remained a long 
time examining me thoroughl}'. I was suri^sed a person 
whose piety made so much noise should dwell so upon the 
exterior, and appear to make so much of it. She expressed 
great joy at seeing me. My husband was very pleased, for 
at bottom he loved me much, and I should have been 
very happy with him, but for the continual talk my 
mother-in-law entertained him with. 

I cannot tell the kindness that was shown me in this 
house. All i\\e officials eagerly served me. Everywhere 
I found only persons who applauded me, owing to this 
miserable exterior. I was so scrupulous in not listening to 
any one on this point, I made myself ridiculous. I never 
spoke to a man alone, and never took one into my carriage 
unless my husband was there, although they might be my 
relatives. I never gave my hand without precaution, I 
never went into the carriages of men. In short, there was 
no possible measure I did not observe to avoid giving any 
umbrage to my husband, or any ground for my being 

58 MADAME GUTON. [Part I. 

talked of. So much precaution had I, my God, for a 
vain point of honour, and I had bo little for the true 
honour, which is, not to displease j'ou. I -went so far in 
this, and my self-love Tvas so great, that if I had failed in 
any rule of politeness, I could not sleep at night. Every 
one wished to contribute to my diversion, and the outside 
life was only too agreeable for me ; but as to indoors, 
vexation had so depressed my husband, that each day I 
had to put up with something new, and that very often. 
Sometimes he threatened to throw the supper out of the 
window, and I told him it would be very unfair to me ; I 
had a good appetite. I laughed with him to win him, and 
oftentimes he quieted down at once, and the manner in 
which I spoke to him touched him. At other times 
melancholy got the upper hand, in spite of all I could do, 
and the love he had for me. He wished me to return 
home, but I could not desire it, owing to what I had 
suffered in his absence. I remarked that generally after I 
had been to the Mass, or had communicated, it was then 
he was seized with the most vexatious tempers, which often 
lasted very long. You gave me, my God, much patience, 
and you enabled me to make no answer to him, or else 
some very trifling thing with gentleness, and thus the 
Devil, who hoped only to lead me thereby to offend 3'ou, 
went off in confusion, owing to the singular assistance of 
your grace, which, despite the rebellion of nature I keenly 
felt, did not permit me to get into a passion. 

I became quite languishing, for I loved you, my God, 
and I would not have wished to displease you. This vanity 
which I felt, and I could not destroy, caused me much 
trouble. That, joined to a long succession of vexations, 
made me fall ill. As I did not wish to cause trouble in the 
Hotel de Longueville, I had myself carried elsewhere, and 
I was so ill and reduced to such extremity that, after they 
had in seven days taken from me forty-eight pallets of 
blood, and they could get no more, the doctors despaired 


of ray life, and this state was protracted. There was no 
probability I could recover. The priest who confessed me, 
and who had much piety and discernment, for he had been 
an intimate friend of St. Francis de Sales, appeared so 
satisfied with me that he said I would die like a saint. It 
was only I, my God, who was not satisfied with myself. 
My sins were too present to my mind, and too painful to 
my heart, to allow this presumption. They brought mo 
the Holy Viaticum at midnight. There was general 
desolation among the family and all those who knew me. 
I was the only person to whom death was indifferent. I 
regarded it without fear. I had no grief at leaving this 
miserable body, whose vanity was more insupportable to me 
than death. My crosses greatly contributed to rendering 
me unconcerned at its approach. My husband was in- 
consolable, and was so afilicted he was near dying. When 
he saw there was no hope ; that the disease increased as 
well as my weakness ; that the remedies irritated it ; that 
they found no more blood in my veins, which were drained 
by the profuse bleedings they had subjected me to, — on the 
Festival of St. Francis de Sales he vowed me to this saint, 
and caused many Masses to be said. It was no sooner done 
than I began to improve. But v;hat is strange is, that in 
spite of all his love, hardly was I out of danger when he 
commenced to be vexed with me. Scarcely could I move 
about when I had to endure new assaults. This illness 
was very useful to me, for besides a very great patience 
in the midst of severe pain, it threw a great light for me 
on the worthlessness of the things of the world. It 
detached me much from myself. It gave me a new courage 
to suffer better than I had done in the past. I even felt 
that your love, my God, was strengthening itself in my 
heart, with the desire to please you and to be faithful to 
you in my condition, and many other benefits it conferred 
on me which it would be useless to detail. I was still six 
months dragging on with a slow fever and a hepatic tiux. 


They thought this "vvould ultimately carry me off. But, 
my God, you were not yet willing to take me to you. The 
designs you had for me were far other than that. You 
were not satisfied with making me the object of your mercy ; 
you willed I should be the victim of your justice. 



At last, after long debility, I recovered my former health, 
and I lost my mother, who died like au angel. For God, 
"who willed to commence even in this life to recompense 
her great almsgiving, gave her such a grace of detach- 
ment, that, although she was only twenty-four hours ill, 
she left all that was most dear to her without grief. Many 
things happened during this time that I suppress, Sir, as 
being of no utility either in making me known to you, or 
for your own use. It was a continuation of daily crosses 
and occasions for vanity. However, I still pursued my 
little course of prayer, which I never failed to offer twice 
a day. I watched over myself, continually conquering 
myself, and I gave much alms. I went to the houses of 
the poor, and I assisted them in their illnesses. I did, 
according to my light, all the good I knew, being punctual 
at church and remaining before the Holy Sacrament, 
having adopted for it a perpetual adoration. You in- 
creased, my God, my love and my patience in proportion 
as you increased my sufferings. The temporal advantages 
that my mother procured for my brother above me, at 
which I was no way vexed, nevertheless caused me crosses, 
for at home they blamed me for everything. I was also 
much indisposed in a second pregnancy, and even some- 
time ill of a double-tertian fever. I was still weak, and 

-62 MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 

I did not yet serve you, my God, "^itb that vigour 
that you soon afterwards gave me. I would have liked to 
reconcile your love with the love of myself and of creatures ; 
for I was so unfortunate that I still found persons who 
loved me and whom I could not hinder m3'sclf from wishing 
to please — not that I loved them, hut from the love I hore 

You permitted, my God, that Madame de Ch , who 

was exiled, came to my father, and he offered her a portion 
of the house, which she accepted, and she lived there some 
time. This lady was of singular piety and very spiritual. 
As I often used to see her, and she had a friendship for me, 
because she saw I wished to love God, and that I employed 
myself in external works of charity, she remarked that I 
had the virtues of the active and complex life, but that it 
was not in the simplicity of prayer in which she was. She 
sometimes dropped a word to me on this subject, but as 
the hour was not yet come, I did not understand her. She 
vras more useful to me from her example than from her 
•words. I saw on her face something that showed a very 
great presence of God, and I remarked in her what I had 
never yet seen in any one. I endeavoured, through my 
head and thoughts, to give m3'self a continual presence of 
God. I gave myself much trouble, and made no advance. 
I wished to have by an effort what I could not acquire save 
in ceasing all effort. This worthy lady charmed me by 
her virtue, which I saw to be far above the ordinary. Seeing 
me so complex, she often said something to me ; but it was 
not time — I did not understand her. I spoke of it to my 
confessor, who told me the exact opposite, and as I 
discovered to her what my confessor had said thereon, she 
did not venture to open herself to me. 

My father's nephew, of whom I have spoken, who had 
gone to Cochin China with M. de Heliopolis, arrived. He 
came to Europe to fetch priests. I was delighted to see 
him, for I remembered the good his former visit had 


brought me. Madame de Ch was no less pleased than 

I to see liim, for they quickly understood each other, and 
they had one and the same spiritual language, which was 
also known to the prioress of a convent of Benedictines, 
named Genevieve Granger, one of the holiest women of her 
time. The virtue of this excellent relative charmed me, 
and I admired his continual prayer, without being able 
to understand it. I forced myself to meditate continually, 
to think unceasingly of you, my God, to repeat prayers 
and utter ejaculations ; but I could not by all these various 
things give myself what you yourself give, and which is 
experienced only in simplicity. I was surprised at his 
telling me that he thought of nothing in prayer, and I 
wondered at what I could not comprehend. He did all he 
could to attach me more strongly to you, my God. He 
assured me, if he was so happy as to endure martyrdom — as, 
in fact, he endured it — he would oJBfer it to you to obtain for 
me a great gift of prayer. "We used to repeat together the 
Office of the Holy Virgin. Often he stopped quite short, 
because the violence of the attraction closed his mouth, and 
then he ceased those vocal prayers. I did not at that time 
know what it was. He had an incredible affection for me. 
The alienation from the corruption of the century which 
he saw in me, the horror of sin at an age when others 
only commence to taste its i)leasures (for I was not eighteen 
years old), gave him tenderness for me. I complained of 
my faults with much ingenuousness, for I have always 
been clear enough thereon ; but as the difficulty I found in 
entirely correcting them made me lose courage, he sup- 
ported me, and exhorted me to support myself, and he 
would have liked to give me another method of prayer, 
which would have been more efficacious to rid me of 
myself; but I gave no opening for that. I believe his 
prayers were more efficacious than his words, for he was 
no sooner out of my father's house than you had compassion 
on me, my Divine Love. The desire I had to please you, 

64 MADAME GUYON. [Pabt I. 

the tears I shed, my great labour and the little fruit I 
reaped from it, moved your compassion. You gave me in 
a moment, through your grace and through your goodness 
alone, vrhat I had been unable to give myself through all 
my efforts. In this state was my soul, when by a goodness 
the greater in proportion as I had rendered myself un- 
worthy of it, without paying regard either to yom* graces 
rejected, or to my sins, any more than to my extreme 
ingratitude, seeing me rowing with so much toil, helpless, 
you sent, my Divine Saviour, the favourable wind of 
your divine working to make me proceed at full sail upon 
that sea of afflictions. The thing happened as I am about 
to tell. 

I often spoke to my confessor of the trouble I had at not 
being able to meditate or imagine anything to myself. 
Subjects of prayer too extended were useless to me, and I 
did not comprehend anything in them. Those that were 
very short and full of unction suited me better. This 
worthy Father did not understand me. At last God per- 
mitted that a monk, very spiritual, of the Order of St. 
Francis, travelled by where we were. He wanted to go by 
another way, as well to shorten the journey as to avail 
himself of the ease of water-carriage, but a secret force 
made him change his plan, and obliged him to pass through 
the place where I dwelt. He at once saw there was there 
something for him to do. He fancied that God called him 
for the conversion of a man of consideration in this neigh- 
bourhood, but his efforts were useless. It was the 
conquest of my soul that you wished to effect through 
him. my God, it seems that you forgot all the rest to 
think only of this ungrateful and faithless heart. As soon 
as this worthy monk had arrived in the country, he went 
to see my father, who was very glad of it, and who about 
that time being ill, was near dying. I was then laid up 
with my second son. For some time they concealed from 
mo my father's illness, through fear for my health, yet an 


indiscreet person having informed me, ill as I was, I got 
up and -went to see him. The haste with which I had 
gone about after my confinement caused me a dangerous 
illness. My father recovered, not perfectly, hut enough to 
give me new marks of his affection. I told him my desire 
to love you, my God, and the grief I was in at not being 
able to do it according to my desire. My father, who 
singularly loved me, thought he could not give me a more 
solid proof of it than in procuring for me the acquaintance 
of this monk. He told me what he knew of this holy man, 
and that he wished me to see him. I at first made much 
difficulty, because I never used to go to see monks. I 
believed I was bound so to act in order to observe the rules 
of the most scrupulous prudence ; yet my father's urgency 
took with me the place of an absolute command. I thouglit 
no harm could come to me from a thing I did only to obey 

I took with me one of my relatives and went there. 
When he saw me at a distance he was quite confused ; for 
he was very particular in never seeing women, and a 
solitude of five years, which he had just left, had made 
them not a little strangers to him. He was then very much 
surprised that I was the first who addressed herself to him, 
and what I told him increased his surprise, as he has since 
acknowledged to me, assuring me that my appearance and 
manner of saying things had confused him, so that he did 
not know if he was dreaming. He hardly advanced, and 
was a long time without being able to speak to mo. I 
knew not to what to attribute his silence. I continued to 
speak to him, and to tell him in a few words my difficulties 
about prayer. He answered me at once : " It is, Madame, 
because you seek outside what 3 ou have within. Accustom 
yourself to seek God in your heart, and you will find him 
there." On finishing these words, he left me. 

The next morning he was very greatly astonished when 
I went to see him, and when I told him the effect his words 
VOL. I. r 


had produced in 1113' soul ; for it is true they -were for me 
hke an arrow that pierced my heart through and through. 
I felt in that moment a very deep wound, as delicious, as 
full of love, a wound so sweet, I desired never to be healed 
of it. Those words put into my heart what I was seeking 
so many years, or rather they made me discover what was 
there, and which I did not enjoy for want of knowing it. 
my Lord, you were in my heart, and you asked from me 
only a simple turning inward to make me feel your presence. 
O Infinite Goodness, you were so near, and I went running 
here and there to look for j-ou, and I did not find you. My 
life was miserable, and my happiness was within me. I 
was in poverty in the midst of riches, and I was dying of 
hunger near a table spread and a continual feast. 
Beauty ancient and new, why have I known you so late ? 
Alas ! I was seeking you where you were not, and I did not 
seek you where you were. It was for want of understand- 
ing those words of your Gospel when you say, ** The 
kingdom of God is not licre or there, but the kingdom of 
God is within you." I experienced it at once, since hence- 
forth you were my King, and my heart was your kingdom, 
where you commanded as Sovereign, and where you carried 
out all your wills ; for v.'hat you do in a soul when you 
come there as a King, is the same which you did when you 
came into the world to be King of the Jews. " It is written 
of me," said that divine King, "at the head of the book, 
that I will do your will." It is v/hat he writes at once on 
the entrance of the heart where he comes to reign. 

I told this worthy Father that I did not know what he 
had done to me ; that my heart was quite changed ; that 
God was there, and I had no longer any trouble to find 
him ; for from that moment I was given an experience of his 
presence in my central depth, not through thought or appli- 
cation of the mind, but as a thing one possesses really 
in a very sweet manner. I experienced those words of the 
spouse of the Canticles, " Your name is like oil poured 


out ; therefore the young girls have loved you." For I 
experienced in my soul an unction which, like a soothing 
balm, healed all my wounds, and which even spread itself 
so powerfully over my senses, that I could hardly open my 
mouth or my eyes. I did not sleep at all the whole of 
that night, because your love, my God, was not only for 
me like a delightful oil, but also like a devouring fire, which 
kindled in my soul such a flame that it seemed bound to 
devour everything in an instant. I was all of a sudden so 
changed that I was no longer recognizable either by myself 
or by others. I no longer found cither those faults or 
those dislikes. All appeared to mo consumed like straw in 
a great fire. 

This worthy Father, however, could not make up his 
mind to undertake my direction, although he had seen so 
surprising a change eflected by God. Many reasons led 
him to decline it : my appearance, which gave him much 
apprehension ; my extreme youth, for I was only nineteen 
years old ; and a promise he had made to God, through 
distrust of himself, never to undertake the direction of any 
female unless our Lord imposed it upon him by a special 
providence. On my urging him, then, to take me under 
Ids direction, he told me to pray to God about it ; that he 
would do so on his side. When he was in prayer, it was 
said to him, " Do not fear to take charge of her : she is 
my spouse." my God, permit me to say to you, that 
you did not mean it. What ? your spouse ! this frightful 
monster of filth and iniquity, who had done nothing but 
offend you, abuse your graces, and pay your goodness with 
ingratitude? This worthy Father then told me that he 
was willing to direct me. 

Nothing was now more easy for me than to pray. 
Hours were to me no more than moments, and I was 
unable not to do it. Love left me not a moment of respite. 
I said to him, " my Love, it is enough : leave me." My 
prayer was, from the moment of which I have spoken, void 

68 MADAME GUYON. [Part 1. 

of all forms, species, and images. Nothing of my prayer 
passed into my head, but it was a prayer ofenjoj^ment and 
possession in the will, where the delight of God was so 
great, so pure, and so simple, that it attracted and absorbed 
the other two powers of the soul in profound concentration, 
without act or speech. I had, however, sometimes freedom 
to say some words of love to my Beloved, but then every- 
thing was taken from me. It was a prayer of faith, which 
excluded all distinction ; for I had not any view of Jesus 
Christ or the divine attributes. Everything was absorbed 
in a delicious faith, where all distinctions were lost to give 
love room for loving with more expansion, without motives 
or reasons for loving. That sovereign of the powers — the 
will — swallowed up the two others, and took from them 
every distinct object to unite them the better in it, in order 
that the distinct should not arrest them, and thus take from 
them the uniting force and hinder them from losing them- 
selves in love. It is not that they did not subsist in their 
unconscious and passive operations, but it is that the light 
of faith, like a general light, similar to that of the sun, 
absorbs all distinct lights, and throws them into obscurity 
to our eyes, because the excess of his light surpasses 
them all. 



This, then, was the prayer which was communicated to me 
at once, which is far above ecstasies, ravishments, visions, 
etc. ; for all those graces are far less pure. Visions are in 
the powers inferior to the will, and their effect must always 
terminate at the will, and in the sequel they must he lost 
in the experience of what one sees, knows, and hears in 
those states ; otherwise the soul would never arrive at the 
perfect union. What she would then have that she would 
even give the name of union to, would he a mediated union, 
and a flowing of the gifts of God into the powers ; but it is 
not God himself; so that it is very important to prevent 
souls from dwelling upon visions and ecstasies, because 
this arrests them almost all their life; besides, those graces 
are very subject to illusion, for that which has form, image, 
and distinctness, the Devil may imitate, together with the 
sensible delight, but that which is detached from all images, 
forms, species, and above things sensible, the Devil cannot 
enter these. Of these kinds of gifts the less pure and 
lierfect, and the most subject to illusion, are visions and 
ecstasies. Eavishments and revelations are not at all so 
much, although they are not a little so. The vision is 
never of God himself, nor almost ever of Jesus Christ, as 
those who have them imagine. It is an angel of light, 
who, according to the power which is given him by God, 
causes the soul to see his representation, which he himself 


takes. It appears to me that the apparitions that people 
believe to be of Jesus Christ himself are something like 
the sun, which paints itself in a cloud -with such vivid 
colours, that he ^Yho does not know this secret, believes it 
is the sun itself, 3'et it is only its image. Jesus Christ in 
that way pictures himself in the intelligence, and those arc 
called intellectual visions, and are the most perfect; or 
that is done by angels, which, being pure intelligences, 
may thus be imprinted, and thus show themselves. St. 
Francis d'Assisi, very enlightened on visions, has never 
attributed to Jesus Christ himself tlie impression of his 
stigmata, but to a Seraph, who, taking the appearance of 
Jesus Christ, impressed them upon him. The imagination 
impresses itself also with phantoms and holy represen- 
tations. There are, further, corporal ones ; both sorts are 
the most gross and the most subject to illusion. It is of 
these sorts of things St. Paul speaks when he says that 
the Angel of Darkness transfigures himself to an Angel of 
Light — a thing that ordinarily happens when one attaches 
importance to visions, esteems them, dwells upon them, 
because all these things excite vanity in the soul, or at 
least hinder her from running in blind faith, which is above 
all sight, knowledge, and light, as St. Denis explains. 

Ecstasy comes from a sensible delight which is a spiritual 
sensuality, where the soul, letting herself go too far, in con- 
sequence of the sweetness she finds there, falls into faintness. 
The Devil gives this kind of sensible sweetness to entice 
the soul, make her hate the cross, to render her sensual, 
and to fill her with vanity and love of self, to arrest her 
at the gifts of God, and to hinder her from following Jesus 
Christ by renunciation and death to all things. Distinct 
interior utterances are also very subject to illusion. The 
Devil forms many of them, and, though they should bo from 
the good angel — for God never speaks in this way — they 
do not always mean all that they seem to say, and very 
seldom does one sec that hajipen which is in this way 


spoken ; for wlieii God sends this kind of message by bis 
angels, be understands tbings in bis ^vay, and we take 
tbem in ours, and it is tbis wbicb misleads us. Tbc im- 
mediate utterance of God is none otbcr tban tbe expression 
of bis Word in tbc soul — speecb substantial, wbicb bas 
no sound or articulation ; speech vivifying and operative, 
as it is written, "He spoke, and tbey are made ;" speech 
which is never for a moment mute or fruitless ; speech 
which never ceases in tbe centre of tbe soul when she is 
fitted for it, and which returns as pure to its principle as it 
left it ; speech where there is never any mistake ; speech 
which makes Jesus Christ become the life of the soul, since 
it is none other than himself as the Word ; speech which 
has a wonderful cfticacj", not only in the soul where it 
is received, but which communicates itself to other souls 
through that one, as a divine germ which makes them 
fructify for eternal life; speech always mute and always 
eloquent ; speech that is none other than yourself, my 
God, the Word made flesh ; speech which is the kiss of tbe 
mouth, and the union, immediate and essential, that you 
are, infinitely elevated above those utterances that are 
created, limited, and intelligible. 

Revelations of the future are also very dangerous, and 
the Devil can counterfeit them with auguries, as he once 
did in the heathen temples, where he rendered oracles. 
Even though tbey should be from God tbrough tbe ministry 
of bis angels, we must get beyond them, without dwelling 
upon tbem, because we do not understand what tbey 
signify, true revelations being always very obscure. A 
further reason is that tbis amuses tbe soul extremely, 
binders her from living in total abandonment to tbe Divine 
Providence, gives false assurances and frivolous hopes, fills 
tbe mind with future thing?, and binders from dying to all 
and passing beyond all things to follow Jesus Christ, naked, 
despoiled of all. 

The Eevelation of Jesus Christ, of which St. Paul speaks, 

72 MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 

is very different from all that. It is manifested to the soul 
when the eternal Word is communicated to her — revelation 
■which makes us become second Jesus Christs on earth 
through participation, and which brings to pass that he 
expresses himself in us ; it is this revelation which is 
always true, and which the Devil cannot counterfeit. 

Ravishments come from another principle. God attracts 
the soul powerfully to make her go out of herself and to 
absorb her in him ; and of all the gifts I have described, it 
is the most perfect. But the soul being still arrested by 
her self-hood, she can not go out of herself, so that being 
attracted on the one hand, and kept back on the other, it 
is this which operates the ravishment, or flight of the 
spirit, which is more violent than ecstasy, and sometimes 
raises the body from the earth. However, that which men 
admire so extraordinarily is an imperfection and a defect 
in the creature. 

True ravishment and perfect ecstasy are operated by 
total annihilation, where the soul, losing all self-hood, 
passes into God without effort and without violence, as 
into the place which is proper and natural to her. For 
God is the centre of the soul, and when once the soul is 
disengaged from the self-hood which arrested her in herself 
or in other creatures, she infallibly passes into God, 
where she dwells hidden with Jesus Christ. But this 
ecstasy is operated only by simple faith, death to all things 
created, even to the gifts of God, which, being creatures, 
hinder the soul from falling into the One uncreated. It is 
for this reason, I say, it is of great importance to make her 
pass beyond all his gifts, howsoever sublime they may 
appear, because, as long as the soul dwells in them, she 
does not veritably renounce herself, and so never passes 
into God himself, although she may be in those gifts in a 
very sublime manner. But resting thus in the gifts, she 
loses the real enjoyment of the Giver, which is an in- 
estimable loss. 


Through an inconceivable goodness, my God, you 
introduced me into a state very pure, very firm, and very 
soHd. You took possession of my will, and you there 
established your throne, and in order that I should not let 
myself aim at those gifts and withdraw myself from your 
love, you put me at once into a union of the powers and 
into a continual adherence to you. I was unable to do 
anything else but to love you with a love as profound as it 
was tranquil, which absorbed everything else. Souls that 
are taken this way are the most favoured, and they have a 
shorter road to travel. It is true when you advance them 
so quickly, my God, they must expect violent crosses and 
cruel deaths, especially if they are from the first touched 
with much faith, abandonment, pure love, disinterestedness, 
and love of the sole interest of God alone, without any 
self-regard. These M'cre the dispositions you from the 
first placed in me, with so vehement a desire of suffering 
for you, that I was quite languishing from it. I was on a 
sudden disgusted with all creatures ; all that was not 
my Love was insupportable to me ; the cross I had till then 
borne through resignation became my delight and the 
object of my complaisance. 

74 MADAME GUYON. [Paet I. 


I WROTE all this to that worthy Father, who was filled with 
joy and astonishment. God, what penances did not the 
love of suffering make me practise ! I practised all the 
austerities I could imagine, but all was too feeble to 
satisfy the desire I had of suffering. Although my body 
was very delicate, the instruments of penance tore me 
without causing me pain, as it appeared to me. Every day 
I took long scourgings, which were with iron points. They 
drew much blood from me, and bruised me, but they did not 
satisfy me, and I regarded them with scorn and indignation, 
for they could not content me ; and as I had little strength, 
and my chest was extremely delicate, I wearied my arms 
and lost my voice without hurting myself. I wore girdles 
of hair and iron points. The former appeared to me a 
play of self-love, and the latter caused me extreme pain, 
putting on and taking off, and yet, when I had them on, 
they did not cause me pain. I tore myself with brambles, 
thorns, and nettles, which I kept on me. Tlie pain of these 
latter caused my heart to fail, and entirely deprived me of 
sleep, without my being able to remain sitting or lying, in 
consequence of the points remaining in my flesh. It was 
these last I used when I could get them, for they satisfied me 
more than any. I very often kept absinthe in my mouth, 
colocynth in my food ; although I ate so little that I am 
astonished how I could live ; besides, I was always ill or 


languishing. If I walked, I placed stones in my shoes. It 
was, my God, what you inspired mo from the first to do, 
as well as to deprive myself of all the most innocent 
gratifications. All that could flatter my taste was refused 
to it. All that was most disagreeable to it was given to it. 
My stomach, which up to this time was so delicate that it 
would be most violently upset at the least dirt, no longer 
dared manifest a dislike, but it saw itself at once compelled 
to take what made it ready to die, until it ceased to have 
any dislike. My taste, which up to that could hardly eat 
anything, was forced to eat everything without distinguish- 
ing, until it seemed to be unable even to make a choice. 
I did not do this through practice, nor study, nor with 
premeditation. You were continually in me, my God, 
and you were so severe in your exactions that you did not 
allow me to pass the least thing. When I thought to do 
something, you suddenly stopped me, and made mo do, 
without thinking of it, all your wills and all that was 
repugnant to my senses, until they were so supple that 
they had not the least inclination nor the least repugnance. 
I dressed the wounds of all who came to me, and gave 
remedies to the sick. This mortification lasted for a long 
time, but as soon as my disgust ceased, and took alike the 
most horrible things and the best, the thought of it was 
entirely taken away from me, and I have since paid no 
attention to it ; for I did nothing of myself, but I allowed 
myself to be led by my King, who governed all as Sovereign. 
For many years I practised the former austerities, but as 
for these things, in less than a year my senses were 
reduced to subjection. Nothing extinguishes them so 
quickly as to refuse them all they desire, and to give them 
what they dislike. Nothing else kills so effectually ; and 
austerities, however great they be, if they are not accom- 
panied by what I have just said, still leave the senses in 
vigour and never deaden them, but this, joined with 
concentration, entirely deprives them of life. 

76 MADAME GUYON. [Fart I. 

When the worthy Father, whom I have mentioned, 
asked me how I loved God, I told him that I loved him 
more than the most passionate lover loved his mistress ; 
that this comparison was yet improper, since the love of 
creatures can never attain to that either in force or depth. 
This love was so continual, and always occupied me, and 
so powerful, I could not think of anything else. This pro- 
found stroke, this delicious and amorous wound, was inflicted 
on me on the Magdalen's Day, 1GG8 ; and that Father, who 
was a very good preacher, had been asked to preach in my 
parish, which was under the invocation of the Magdalen. 
He made three admirable sermons on this subject. I then 
perceived an effect which his sermons produced on me, 
namely, that I could hardly hear the words and what was 
said ; they at once made impression on my heart, and so 
powerfully absorbed me in God, that I could neither open 
my eyes nor hear what was said. To hear your name 
mentioned, my God, or your love, was enough to throw 
me into profound prayer, and I experienced that your word 
made an impression directly on my heart, and that it pro- 
duced all its effect without the intervention of reflection 
and intellect ; and I have ever since experienced this, 
although in a different manner, according to the different 
degrees and states through which I have passed. It was, 
then, more perceptible to me. I could hardly any more 
l')rouounce vocal prayers. 

That absorption in God in which I was, absorbed every- 
thing. I could no more see the saints or the Holy Virgin 
out of God, but I saw them all in him, without being able 
to distinguish them from him, save with trouble, and 
although I tenderly loved certain saints, as St. Peter, St. 
Paul, St. Magdalen, St. Theresa, all those who were 
spiritual, I could not yet make distinctions in them, nor 
invoke them out of God. 

The 2nd of August the same year, which was only some 
weeks after my wound, the Fete of Notre Dame de Portion- 


cule was celebrated in the convent in which this worthy 
Father, my director, was. I went in the morning to gain 
the indulgences. I was greatly surprised when I saw I 
could not succeed. I used every effort for that purpose, 
but in vain. I remained more than five hours continuously 
in the church without any advance. I was penetrated by a 
ray of pure love, so living that I could not make up my 
mind to shorten the pains due to my sins by indulgences. 
If they bad brought penalties and crosses I would have 
gained them. I said to you, my Love, " I wish to suffer 
for you ; do not shorten my pains ; it would be to shorten 
my pleasures. I only find them in suffering for you. In- 
dulgences are good for those who do not know the value of 
suffering, who do not wish that your divine justice should 
be satisfied, and who, having a mercenary soul, are less 
afraid of displeasing you than apprehensive of the penalty 
which is attached to sin." But fearing I might be mistaken 
and commit a fault in not gaining indulgences — for I had 
never heard tell that one might be in this state — I made 
new efforts to gain them, but uselessly. At last, not knowing 
what to do, I said to our Lord, "If it is absolutely neces- 
sary to gain indulgences, transfer the penalties of the other 
life into this." As soon as I returned home, I wrote to that 
worthy Father an account of my disposition and my feel- 
ings, with so much facility and such ease of expression that, 
when preaching that day, he made it the third part of his 
sermon, repeating word for word what I had written. 

I gave up all society. I renounced for ever games 
and amusements, the dance, and all useless promenades. 
Nearly two years before I had given up curling my hair. 
I was, however, very well dressed, for my husband wished 
it BO. My only diversion was to snatch moments to be alone 
with you, my only Love. All other pleasure was for me 
a pain, not a pleasure. I did not lose your presence, which 
was given me by a divine and continual influx, not, as I 
had imagined, through an effort of the head, nor through 

78 MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 

thinking of you, my divine Love, but in the depths of the 
will, where I tasted with ineffable sweetness the real enjoy- 
ment of the object loved — not, however, as afterwards, 
through an essential union, but through a true union in 
the will, which made me taste by happy experience that 
the soul is created to enjoy you, my God. This union is 
the most perfect of all those which are operated in the 
powers. Its effect is also much greater, for the unions of 
the other powers enlighten the intellect and absorb the 
memory, but if they are not accompanied with this, they 
are of little use, because they produce only temporary 
effects. The union of the will carries with it, in essence 
and in reality, what the others have only in distinction. 
]\Ioreover, it submits the soul to her God, conforms her to 
all his wills, gradually kills in her all " oicn " will, and at 
last, drawing with it the other powers by means of charity, 
of which it is full, gradually makes them unite in that 
centre, and there lose themselves so far as their operation 
is "oivn" and natural. 

This loss is called " Annihilation of the powers," which 
must not be understood of a physical annihilation — that 
would be ridiculous, but they appear annihilated as re- 
gards us, although they still remain subsisting. This 
annihilation or loss of the powers takes place in this way : 
In proportion as Charity fills and inflames the Will in the 
manner we have said, this Charity becomes so powerful 
that it gradually overcomes all the activity of this Will to 
subject it to that of God, so that when the soul is docile in 
allowing herself to be perfected and purified by it, and to 
be emptied of all that she has of the " ou-n " and o2)jjosed to 
the will of God, she finds herself gradually void of all "oivn " 
will, and placed in a holy indifl'erence, to will only that 
which God does and wills. This never can be consum- 
mated through the activity of our Will, even though it 
should be employed in continual resignations, because they 
are so many "own" acts, which, although very virtuous, 


make the Will still subsist in itself, and consequently bold 
it in multiplicity, in distinction, in unlikeness with that of 
God. But when the soul remains submissive, and only 
suffers freely and voluntarily, bringing her concurrence, 
which is her submission, to allow herself to be conquered 
and destroyed by the activity of Charity, — this, while 
absorbing the Will in itself, perfects it in that of God, 
first purifying it from all restriction, unlikeness, and 
*' owniiess." 

It is the same with the two other powers, where, by 
means of Charity, the two other theological virtues are in- 
troduced. Faith seizes so pov/erfully on the Understanding 
that it makes it die away to all reasoning, to all distinct light, 
to all particular illuminations, be they the most sublime ; 
which shows how much visions, revelations, ecstasies, etc., 
are contrary to this, and hinder the loss of the soul in God, 
although in this way she may appear lost for moments ; 
but it is not a true loss, since the soul which is truly lost 
in God never recovers herself. It is rather a simple 
absorption, if the thing is in the will, or a dazzling if it is 
in the intellect, than a loss. I say, then, that Faith makes 
the soul lose all distinct light, and absorbs her while con- 
quering, to place her in its light, which is above all light — 
a light general and indistinct, which appears darkness to 
the self-hood on which it shines, because its excessive 
clearness prevents one from discerning or recognizing it ; 
as we are unable to discern the sun and his light, although 
by means of this light we so perfectly discern objects that 
it even hinders us from making mistakes. As we see that 
the sun absorbs in his general light all the little distinct 
lights of the stars, but that these little lights in themselves 
are very easily discerned, without, however, being able to 
give light to us ; in the same way, these visions, ecstasies, 
etc., are very well discerned, owing to their smallness of 
extent. But yet, while making themselves distinct, they can- 
not, however, place us in the truth, nor make us see objects 

80 lilADA^IE GUYON. [Part I. 

such as the}'' are ; on the contrary, they would rather 
mislead us by their false light. It is similar with all 
lights which are not those of passive Faith — infused light — 
Faith the gift of the Holy Spirit, which has the power to 
undeceive the intellect, and, while obscuring the"o2tvi" lights 
of the Understanding, to place it in the light of truth ; 
which, although less satisf3ang for it, is, however, a thousand 
times more sure than any other, and is properly the true 
light of this life, until Jesus Christ, the eternal Light, arises 
in the soul and enlightens her wdth himself — "He who 
enlightens every man coming into the world " with the new 
life in God. This is abstruse, but I allow myself to be 
carried away by the spirit who makes me write. 

In the same way, the Memory finds itself conquered and 
absorbed by Hope, and at last everything loses itself in pure 
Charity, which absorbs the whole soul, through means of 
the Will that, as sovereign of the powers, has the ability 
to destroy the others in itself, like as Charitj', queen of the 
virtues, reunites in itself all the other virtues. This reunion 
which then takes place is called Unity, central union, 
because everything finds itself united through the will 
and charity in the centre of the soul and in God our 
ultimate end, according to those words of St. John, "He 
who dwells in charity, dwells in God ; for God is charity." 
This union of my will to yours, my God, and this in- 
effable presence, was so powerful and so sweet at the 
same time, that I could not wish to resist it, nor to defend 
myself from it. This dear Possessor of my heart made 
me see even my smallest faults. 



My senses were, as I have said, under a continual mortifi- 
cation, and I gave them no Hbert}' ; for it should be known 
that, in order to kill them utterly, one must during a 
certain time give them no respite, until they are entirely 
dead. Otherwise they are in danger of never dying, as 
happens with persons who are content to practise great 
external austerities, and who nevertheless give their senses 
certain indulgences, which they call innocent and neces- 
sary, and thereby they give them life; for it is not 
austerities, however great they be, which make the senses 
die. We have seen very ascetic persons feel their revolts 
all their life. What more effectually destroys them is to 
refuse them generally all that pleases them and to give 
them all which is disagreeable to them, and this without 
relaxation and as long as is necessary, to render them 
void of appetite and repugnance. But if before that one 
pretends to give them a little relaxation, one does what 
would happen to a person who had been condemned to die 
of hunger, should any one give him from time to time a 
little nourishment, under pretext of strengthening him ; one 
would prolong his torture and hinder him from dying. It 
is the same with the death of the senses, the powers, the 
"own" intellect, and the '* o/r;i " will ; because if one does 
not tear from them all subsistence, however small it be, one 
maintains them to the end in a dying life, which is very 

VOL. I. G 

82 MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 

well named mortification — what St. Paul has perfectly well 
distinguished when he says, " We bear in our body the 
mortifications of Jesus Christ ; " that is, jDroperly, the dying 
state. But afterwards, to make us see we must not end 
there, he adds elsewhere, ** We are dead, and our life is hid 
with Jesus Christ in God." We never can lose ourselves 
in God, save by total death. 

He who is dead in this way has no longer need of 
mortification, but all that is over for him — everything is 
become new. There is a great fault which persons of good 
intention commit ; after they have attained the extinction 
of their senses by this continual and unrelaxing death, 
to remain all their life attached to that, and not to leave 
this work through a perfect indiflerence, taking alike the 
good and the bad, the sweet and the bitter, in order to 
enter upon a more useful toil, which is the mortification of 
the " oicn " intellect and the " oivti'' will, commencing by the 
loss of their " okii" activities. This is never effected without 
profound prayer, no more than the death of the senses 
will ever be entire without profound concentration joined 
to mortification. Because otherwise the soul, remaining 
still turned towards the senses, maintains them in a strong 
life, whereas by concentration she dwells as it were 
separated from them, and in this way indirectly contributes 
more to their death than all the rest. 

The more you increased my love and my patience, my 
God, the stronger and more continual became my crosses : 
but love made them light to me. Oh, poor souls who con- 
sume yourselves with superfluous worries, if you sought 
God in yourselves, you would soon find an end of your ills, 
since their excess would constitute your delight. Love, 
at this commencement, insatiable of mortifications and 
penances, made me invent all kinds. But what was 
admirable is that, without my paying any attention to 
it, as soon as mortification no longer produced any effect 
upon me, love made me discontinue it, to practise another 


to which it directed me itself; for that love was so subtle 
and enlightened, it saw even the smallest defects. If I 
was about to speak, it made mo see a fault therein, and 
made me keep silence. If I kept silence, it found a defect 
there. In all my actions it found defects — my manner 
of acting, my mortifications, my penances, my alms, my 
solitude, in short, it found defect in all. If I walked, I 
noticed a defect in my manner of walking. If I said any- 
thing to my advantage — ** pride." If I said, " Well, I will 
say nothing of myself, good or bad " — " self-hood." If I 
was too concentrated and reserved — " self-love." If I 
was gay and open, people condemned me. This pure 
Love always found something to censure, and was extremely 
careful to let nothing pass with my soul. It is not that 
I paid attention to myself, for I could regard myself very 
little, owing to the fact that my attention to him through 
the adherence of the will was continual. I was un- 
ceasingly awake to him, and he kept his eye continually 
on me, and conducted me in such a way by the hand of 
his providence, that he made me forget everything, and, 
although I experienced these things, I was unable to 
declare them to any one. He so completely took away 
all regard towards myself, that I could not in any way 
make an examination. As soon as I set myself to do so, 
I was removed from all thought of myself, and turned to 
my one Object, who had no distinct object for me, but 
an utter generality and vastness. I was, as it were, plunged 
in a river of peace. I knew by faith it was God who thus 
possessed all my soul, but I did not think on it, as a wife 
seated near her husband knows it is he who embraces 
her, without saying to herself, " It is he," and without 
occupying her thought with it. 

It was great trouble when I went to confession, for 
as soon as I thought to turn in upon myself for exami- 
nation. Love seized me with such force, unction, and 
concentration, that I could no longer regard myself, nor 

84 MADA^ilE GUYON. [Part I. 

think of myself, but I was quite absorbed in a love as 
powerful as it was sweet. I bad, therefore, to present mj'self 
in this state at the feet of the priest. It was then, my 
God, you made present to me all that you wished me 
to say. Had I said it, I could no more open my mouth to 
pronounce a word, in such dependence did Love keep me ; 
but this was done with so much unction and sweetness, 
that I could only adhere to him. I hardly heard anything 
of what the priest said to mc, but when he pronounced 
the absolution, I experienced like a flowing in of grace 
and a more powerful unction. I remained there so full 
of love that I could not even think of my sins, to be sorry 
for them. I would not have wished for anything in the 
world to displease my dear Spouse, since before he had 
wounded me in this way I wept so bitterly, at the smallest 
faults ; but it was not in my power, to give myself any 
other disposition than that he had placed me in. When 
I say, " I could not," it must not be thought God does 
violence to our liberty ; oh, by no means ! But he demands 
it from us with so many attractions, and causes us to do 
things with so much power, love, and sweetness, that he 
inclines our heart where he pleases, and that heart follows 
him very freely, and with so much pleasure and sweetness, 
that it would be unable not to do it. The attraction is as 
free as infallible. 

Although Love treated me in this way, it must not be 
supposed he left my faults unpunished. God, with what 
rigour do you punish your most faithful and most cherished 
lovers ! I do not speak here of external penances, which 
are too weak to punish the least fault in a soul that God 
wills to purify radically, and which, on the contrary, serve 
rather as consolation and refreshment; but the manner 
God uses to punish the least faults in the chosen souls 
is so terrible, it must be experienced to be understood. 
All that I could tell of it would be understood only by 
experienced souls. It is an interior conflagration and a 


secret fire, which, emanating from God himself, comes to 
purify the fault, and does not cease to cause an extreme 
pain until the fault is entirely purified. It is like a bono 
dislocated, which continues to cause extreme pain until it 
is entirely replaced. This pain is so painful to the soul, 
that she throws herself into a hundred postures to satisfy 
God for her fault. She would tear herself in pieces rather 
than suffer such a torment. Oftentimes she goes quickly 
to confession, to get rid of this great torment, and thus 
multiplies her confessions without matter, and withdraws 
herself from the designs of God, 

It is, at that time, of great importance to know how to 
make use of this pain, and on this depends almost the 
whole advancement or retardation of souls. We must, 
then, in this painful, obscure, and troubled time, second 
the designs of God, and suffer this devouring and crucify- 
ing pain in all its extent as long as it shall endure, 
without adding anything to it or diminishing, bearing it 
passively, without desiring to satisfy God by penances or 
confession, until this pain be past. To bear it passively 
is more painful, and that which it is hardest to adjust one's 
self to, and it would not be believed that an inconceivable 
courage is needed. Those who have not experienced it 
will hardly believe me, yet nothing is more true, and I 
have heard tell of a very great soul (which, however, 
never attained entirely to God in this life, for want of 
courage to allow himself to be entirely purified by the 
devouring fire of justice), that he had never been able to 
bear this pain more than half an hour without going to 
free himself of it by confession. You instructed me, my 
God, in another way, and you taught me that I must not 
practise penance nor confession, until you yourself were 
satisfied. amiable cruel One ! Pitiless and sweet 
Exactor, you made me bear this pain, not only many hours, 
but many days, according to the nature of my fault. A 
useless attention, a hasty word, was punished with rigour. 

86 MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 

and I saw very well that if I had then put a hand to the 
work under pretext of supporting the ark, I should have 
been punished like Oza. I had, then, to suffer without 
stirring the least in the world. I have had much trouble 
to let God perform this operation in all its extent. 

I understand, at the moment that I write, that this fire 
of exact justice is the same as that of purgatory ; for it is 
not a material fire which there burns souls, as some per- 
suade themselves, saying that God for that purpose 
enhances its activity and natural capacity. It is this 
exacting divine justice which burns in this way those 
poor souls, in order, by pm'ifying,'tomake them fit to enjoy 
God. All other fire would be refreshment for them. This 
fire is so penetrating, it goes even into the substance of the 
soul, and can alone purify her radically ; and as these souls 
are disengaged from their bodies, nothing causes a diversion 
of the pain, and this fire devours and penetrates them in 
a terrible manner, each according to the different degree 
of their impurity ; it is the impurity which causes the 
vehemence of this fire of justice and its duration. Those 
who pretend that souls desire to get out of that fire do not 
know their situation. They remain in peace quite passive 
in their sufi'erings, without wishing to shorten them ; for 
they are so powerfully absorbed in God, that, though they 
suffer extremely, they cannot return upon themselves to 
contemplate their sufferings, this return being an imper- 
fection of which they are incapable. God applies to them 
according to his will the prayers that are made for them, 
and he grants to his saints and to his Church to shorten 
their torments and diminish the activity of that fire. 
God, how very true it is, you are a " devouring fire " ! 

It was, then, in this purgatory, amorous yet at the same 
time rigorous, that you purified me from all that was in 
me contrary to your divine will, and I let you do it, 
although I sometimes suffered for several days pains that 
I cannot tell. I would have much wished that I had been 


permitted to practise some extraordinary penances, but 
I bad to continue practising only tbe daily ones, sucb as 
love made me practise. Tbis pain ordinarily deprived 
me of tbe power of eating. I, bowevcr, did violence to 
myself to let notbing appear, except that tbere was re- 
marked upon my face a continual occupation by God ; for, 
as tbe attraction was powerful, it spread itself even over 
tbe senses, so tbat tbis gave me sucb a gentleness, modesty, 
and majesty tbat people of tbe world perceived it. 



In "whatever way my motlier-in-law and my husband 
treated me, I answered only by my silence, which was not 
then difficult for me, because the great interior occupation 
and what I felt rendered me insensible to everything else. 
However, there were moments when you left me to myself, 
and then I could not keep back my tears, when that which 
they said to me was extra-violent. I rendered my mother- 
in-law and my husband the lowest services, in order to 
humiliate myself ; anticipating those who were accustomed 
to do so at such hours. All this did not win them. As 
soon as they got vexed, either of them, although I was not 
aware of having given them any cause, nevertheless I 
asked their pardon, and even of that maid whom I have 
mentioned. I had much trouble to conquer myself on this 
point, because she thereby became more insolent, and 
thought herself justified as I humbled myself, reproaching 
me with things which should have made her blush and die 
of confusion. As she saw I no longer resisted her, and 
that, to conquer my temper (which sought to break out on 
all occasions, especially when I sawl was right and the others 
not), I gave way to her at once, and contradicted her in 
nothing, she took the opportunity to ill-treat me worse, 
and if I asked her pardon for offences she had committed 
against me, she got up, saying she well knew she was 
right. Her arrogance became so great that I would not 


have treated a footman, even the lowest, as she treated me. 
One day, as she was dressing me, and pulled me very 
rudely, and spoke insolently to me, I said to her, "It is 
not for my sake I wish to answer you, for God knows I am 
not troubled at what you do to mc ; but it is that you 
might behave so before persons who might be scandalized 
at it. Moreover, being your mistress, God is assuredly 
offended at what you do to me." She quitted me on the 
moment, and went to my husband like one out of her mind, 
saying she wished to leave ; that I had ill-treated her ; that 
I hated her only because she took care of my husband in 
his attacks, which were continual ; and that I did not wish 
her to render service to him. As my husband was very 
hasty, he at once took fire at her words. I finished dress- 
ing myself alone, since she had left me, and I dared not 
call another maid, for she would not allow any one but 
herself to come near me. I suddenly saw my husband 
come to me like a lion. Up to this time, whatever out- 
bursts he had had against me, they had not been so violent. 
I thought he was going to beat me. I awaited the blow 
with calmness. As he could not walk without a stick, he 
lifted against me the one he held. I thought he was going 
to kill me, and, keeping myself united to God, I saw this 
without trouble. He did not, however, strike me ; for he had 
sufficient presence of mind to see this was unworthj'-of him, 
but he threw the stick at me with force. It fell in front of 
me without touching me. He then poured out abuse as if 
I had been a porter or the most infamous of creatures. I 
maintained a profound silence, keeping myself concentrated 
in God, in order to suftcr all these things for his love. I 
did not know whence could arise such a rage, nor what he 
wanted of me. The maid who had caused this tragedy 
entered. When my husband saw her, his anger redoubled. 
I did not say the least thing, keeping close to my God, 
like a victim ready for all he might will or permit. Then, 
rjedoubling his fury, he made me understand that he wished 


me to ask her pardon, since I bad offended her. Yet I had 
not done anything to this maid. I did it, and that quieted 
him. I M'ent at once away to my beloved closet, and I was 
no sooner there than my divine Director made me leave it 
to go and look for this girl, and make her a present to 
reward her for the cross she bad procured me. She was a 
little astonished, but her heart was too hard to let herself 
be won. I often acted in this waj^, when she caused me 
the greatest trouble, which was very often and almost 
continually. As she had singular address with sick persons, 
and my husband was so always, and she was the only one 
who could touch him when he had the gout, he valued her. 
Moreover, she was so deceitful, that before him she affected 
an extraordinary respect for me ; but w4ien I was not with 
him, if I said a word to her, although with great gentleness, 
and she heard him coming, she cried with all her might 
that she was very unfortunate, and put on an afflicted air, 
so that, without informing himself of the truth, he got 
into a rage against me ; and my mother-in-law did the 

The violence that I practised on my natural character, 
which was hasty and proud, was so great, that it was all I 
could bear. It sometimes seemed that my entrails were 
being torn, and I often fell ill from it. When any one came 
into my room, specially a man, I had given her an order to 
remain there. She sometimes spoke louder than I, in 
order to annoy me, and this made my friends hate her. 
If any unusual visitors came to see me, she hurled a 
thousand reproaches at me in their presence. If I held 
my tongue, she was still more offended, saying I despised 
her. My gentleness embittered her, and she made com- 
plaints of me to everybody. She defamed me, but my 
reputation was so well established in the mind of every- 
body, and in the country, as well owing to my external 
modesty and my devotion, as the great charities I bestowed, 
that nothing could then hurt me. Sometimes she ran 


into the street, crying, ** Am I not indeed unfortunate to 
have such a mistress ? " People crowded round her to know 
what I had done to her, and, being without an answer, she 
used to say I had not spoken to her for the whole day. 
They used to go away with a laugh, saying, " She has not, 
then, done you much harm ! " I am surprised at the blind- 
ness of confessors, and the little truth there is in the 
accusations their penitents make to them of themselves, 
unless God puts them into his truth ; for the confessor of 
this maid passed her off for a saint, and that, because 
being of the lower class, she assisted at his conference. He 
made her often communicate, yet she had all those faults 
and others I suppress, since they are nothing to my 
subject. That confessor told me also she was a saint, and 
I made no answer, for Love would not have me speak of 
my troubles, but that I should consecrate all to him by a 
profound silence. 

My husband was vexed at my devotion, and it was in- 
supportable to him. He said that loving you, my God, 
so strongly, I could no more love him ; for he did not 
understand the true conjugal love is that which you your- 
self form in the heart that loves you. It is true, God, 
pure and holy, that j'ou impressed on me from the com- 
mencement such a love for chastity that there was nothing 
in the world I would not have done to have it. I preached 
nothing else to him, although I endeavoured not to make 
myself disagreeable, and to gratify him in all he could 
require of me. You gave me then, my God, a gift of 
chastity, so that I had not even an evil thought, and 
marriage was very burdensome to me. He sometimes 
said to mc, ** One clearly sees you never lose the presence 
of God." 

The world, which saw I had quitted it, tormented mo 
and turned me into ridicule. I was its topic and the 
subject of its fables. It could not consent to a woman 
of hardly twenty years making so vigorous a war upon 

02 MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 

it. My mother-iu-law took the side of the world, and 
blamed me because I did not do certain things that, at 
heart, she would have been very vexed had I done. My 
domestic crosses greatly increased, for the attraction I felt 
was so great I knew not what to do. When I went upstairs, 
I could not come down again ; was I below, I could not go 
up. I concealed myself to withdraw from the sight of men, 
who could by no means understand the operations that 
took place in my soul. I was as if distracted, for I lived 
in such separation from all created things, that it seemed 
to me there were no longer creatures on the earth. My eyes 
closed in spite of me, and I remained as if without motion, 
because Love kept me shut up within, as in a strong place, 
without my being able (whatever pains I took) to distract 
myself from his presence. I was your captive, my Divine 
Love, and you were my gaoler. I breathed and lived only 
through you and for you. I seemed to experience literally 
those words of St. Paul, " I live, yet not I, but Jesus Christ 
lives in me." You were, my God and my Love, the soul 
of my soul, and the life of my life. Your operations were 
so powerful, so sweet, and so concealed at the same time, 
that I could not explain them to myself. I felt myself 
burning within, with a continual fire, but a fire so peaceful, 
so tranquil, so divine, that it is inexplicable. This fire 
consumed gradually my imperfections, and that which was 
displeasing to my God. It seems to me it consumed, at 
the same time, all partitions, and placed me in a union of 
enjoyment which calmed all desii'es in me. I found in 
myself no desire except a secret inclination and a more 
intimate union. 

We went into the country for some business. I con- 
cealed myself in a corner of a dry river-bed. Who could 
tell what you then did in my soul, my God ? You alone, 
who did it, knew it. I got up at four o'clock to pray, and I 
was insatiable therein. I went very far to the Mass, and the 
church was so situated the carriage could not get up to it. 


There was a mountain to descend and another to cHmb. All 
that cost me nothing. Such a desire I had to receive you, 

my only Good ! How eager were you on your part to give 
yourself to your petty creature, even to working visible 
miracles for the purpose ! Those who saw mo lead so 
different a life from worldly women, said that I was not 
prudent. When I wished to read, I was so taken with your 
love, my God, that at the first word I found myself ab- 
sorbed in you — the book fell from my hands. If I tried to 
force myself, I did not understand what I read, and my 
eyes closed of themselves. I could neither open them, nor 
open my mouth to speak. If people talked near me, I took 
in nothing of what was said. If I went into society, often 

1 could not speak, I was so seized by the inner life ; I 
always went with somebody, in order that it might not 
appear. It was attributed to stupidity, and sometimes 
they said, " But what is the meaning of this ? People 
believe this lady has cleverness. None of it appears." 
When I forced myself to speak, I could not, and I knew 
not what I said. I took work in order to conceal, under 
occupation, the inner state. When I was alone, the work 
used to fall from my hands, and I could do nothing but 
allow myself to be consumed by love. I tried to persuade 
a connection of my husband's to use i^rayer. She thought 
me mad for depriving myself of all the diversions of the 
age, but our Lord has since opened her eyes to make her 
despise them. I would have liked to teach all the world to 
love God, and I thought it only depended on them to feel 
what I felt. God made use of this to gain him many souls. 

That worthy Father of whom 1 have spoken, who 
served for my conversion, made me acquainted with the 
Mother Prioress of the Benedictines, Genevieve Granger, 
who was one of the greatest servants of God of her time. 
This great soul was very useful to me, as I shall tell in 
the sequel. My confessor, who before this time used to 
say to everybody I was a saint (although I was so full of 

94 MADAilE GUYOX. [Vw.t I. 

frailties, and so far from the state in which you, my 
God, by j'om- mercy alone had subsequently placed me) — 
my confessor, seeing I had confidence in the Father I have 
mentioned, and that I was following a route unknown to 
him, declared openly against me, and, as I did not leave 
him for that, he gave me much trouble and caused me 
many crosses. The monks of his order persecuted me 
severely, because the monk who directed me belonged to a 
different order. They publicly preached of me as of a 
person deceived. It is this order which has caused me so 
many crosses, and stirred up so much persecution, as you 
shall see in the remainder of this narrative you exact from 
my obedience. 

My husband and my mother-in-law, who, up to this, 
cared very little for this confessor, joined themselves with 
him, and wished me to give up prayer and the exer- 
cises of piety ; but how, my God, could I have given up 
prayer, of which I was not the mistress, and that you rather 
effected in me than I myself practised, and which it would 
have been impossible for me to hinder, as the more external 
circumstances occurred to distract me, the more powerfully 
did you besiege me within ? When I was in society, you 
possessed me more powerfully. There took place in my 
heart a conversation very different from that which was 
going on outside. I could not hinder the presence of so 
great a Master appearing on my countenance. It was this 
which annoyed my husband, as he sometimes told me. I 
did what I could to prevent it appearing, but I could not 
succeed. I was so occupied within, that I knew not what 
I ate. I made a pretence of eating certain food that I 
did not take, and I did things so cleverly, it was not per- 
ceived. I had almost always absinthe and colocynth in 
my mouth. I learned to eat what I most hated. Love 
did not let me see anything or hear anything. Almost 
every day I took a scourging, and I often wore the iron 
girdle without its lessening the freshness of my face. 


I bad often serious illness. I bad no consolation in life 
except in praying and in seeing tbo Mother of the Bene- 
dictines ; but bow dear those two consolations have cost mu, 
especially the former, since it has been the source of all my 
crosses ! But what am I saying, my Love, estimating the 
cross as I do 7 Ought I not to say you have recompensed 
prayer by the cross, and the cross by prayer? gifts 
inseparable in my heart ! Since you have been given me, 
I have never been a moment without cross, nor, methinks, 
without prayer, although the loss I thought afterwards 
I had suffered of prayer has augmented my crosses to 
excess. However, when your eternal light arose in my 
soul, Love, I have known the contrary, and that she had 
never been without prayer, as she had never been without 

My confessor at first laboured to prevent me from 
praying and seeing Mother Granger, and, as he had an 
understanding with my mother-in-law and my husband, 
the means they used was to watch me from morning to 
evening. I dared not leave the room of my mother-in-law 
or the bed of my husband. Sometimes I carried my work 
to the window, under pretence of seeing better, in order to 
console myself a little by some moments of quiet ; but they 
came to watch me, to see if I was not praying instead of 
working. "When my mother-in-law and husband were 
playing cards together, I kept myself turned towards the 
lire. They used to turn round to see if I was working or 
if I shut my eyes, and, if they perceived I shut them, they 
were in a temper for several hours. What was most strange 
is that when my husband went out, and that he had some 
days of health, he was not willing I should take the time 
of his absence for praying. He remarked my work, some- 
times returned, and, if he knew I was in my closet, got into 
a temper. I used to say to him, " But, Sir, when you are 
absent, what matters it to you what I do, so long as I am 
attentive to you when you are present?" This did not 

96 MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 

content him. He wished that in his absence I should not 
pray either. I do not think there is any torment equal to 
that of being strongly attracted, and unable to be alone. 
my God, the contest they kept up with me, to hinder me 
from loving you, increased my love, and you yourself 
carried me away in an ineffable silence, when they hindered 
me from speaking to you. You united me so much the 
more jiowerfully to you, the more they tried to separate me. 
I often played picquet with my husband, to please him, 
and I was then inwardly more attracted than if I had been 
in church. I could hardly contain the fire that devoured 
me, and if it had been less peaceable, I would have been 
unable to support it. It had all the warmth of love, but 
nothing of its impetuosity. The more ardent it was, the 
more peaceable it was. I could tell nothing of my praj-er, 
owing to its simplicity. All I could tell of it is that it was 
continual as my love, and nothing interrupted it. On the 
contrary, the fire kindled itself with all that was done to 
extinguish it, and prayer nourished itself and increased 
from the fact that they deprived me of the time for using 
it. I loved without motive or reason for loving, for nothing 
passed through my head, but much in the inmost of 
myself. If I were asked why I loved God, whether it was 
owing to his mercy or his goodness, I knew not what 
was said to me. I knew that he was good, full of mercy. 
His perfections caused my pleasure, but I had no thought 
of myself for loving him. I loved him, and I burned with 
his fire because I loved him, and I loved him in such a way 
that I could love only him, but in loving him I had no 
motive save himself. All that was called interest, re- 
compense, was painful to my heart. my God, why 
cannot I make men comprehend the love with which you 
have possessed me from the commencement ; and how 
remote it was from all interest ! I thought neither of 
recompense, gift, nor favour, nor anything which con- 
cerned the lover; but the Beloved was the sole object that 

CiiAi". XII.] AUTOBlOGRAniY. 97 

drew tlio heart in his complete totality. That love could 
not contemplate any perfection in detail. It was not 
drawn to contemplate its love, but it was as if swallowed 
up and absorbed in this love. All that they told it of way, 
of degree, of contemplation, of attributes, it ignored all 
that ; it knew only to love and to suffer ; all the rest was 
outside its province — it did not even comprehend it. 
ignorance, more learned than all the learning of the 
doctors ! since you taught me so well a Jesus Christ 
crucilied, that I madly loved the cross, and that all that 
did not bear the character of cross and suffering failed to 
please me ! 

At the beginning, I was attracted with such force, that 
it seemed my head would come off to unite with my heart, 
and I found that insensibly my body bent itself without my 
being able to prevent it. I did not understand the cause, 
but I have since miderstood, that as everj'thing passed into 
the Will which is the sovereign of the powers, it drew them 
after it and reunited them in God, their divine centre and 
sovereign good, and as at the commencement these powers 
were not accustomed to be united, there was needed more 
violence to effect this reunion. For this reason it was 
more perceived. In the end, the coherence is so strong, it 
becomes quite natural. At that time, it was so strong 
that I would have wished to die, in order to be united 
inseparably and immediately to him, who attracted me 
with so much force. As everything passed into the Will, 
and my imagination, even the mind and intelligence, were 
absorbed in this union of enjoyment, I knew not what to 
say, having never read or heard anything of what I felt. 
I feared to lose my mind, for I must observe I knew 
nothing of the operation of God in souls. I had only 
read the "Philothca," the "Imitation of Jesus Christ," 
with Holy Scripture. Uut as to spiritual books on the 
inner life, I knew not what it meant. I had only read the 
"Spiritual Combat," which says nothing of these things. 
VOL. I. n 

98 MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 

I said to you, my God, if you made the most sensual 
people feel what I feel, they would soon give up their false 
pleasures to enjoy so true a blessing. 

Then all pleasures, the most valued, appeared to me 
so tasteless, that I could not understand how I had been 
able to amuse myself with them ; so that since this time I 
have never been able to find any save with God, although I 
have been faithless enough to use all my efforts to find it 
elsewhere. I was not at all surprised that the mart^yrs 
gave their life for Jesus Christ. I deemed them so happy, 
I envied their good fortune, and it was martyrdom for me 
that I could not suffer martyrdom. For it is not possible 
to love the cross more than I loved it since then ; at least, 
so it appeared to me, and my greatest suffering would have 
been to have had no suffering. 

The esteem and love of crosses have continually in- 
creased; although afterwards I lost the sensible or 
perceived taste for the cross, I have never lost the esteem 
and love of the cross, any more than the cross has never 
left me. It has always been my faithful companion, 
changing and increasing according as my interior dis- 
positions changed and increased. good cross, delight 
of my heart, thou art that which has never left me since 
I gave myself up to my divine Master ! I hoi^e that thou 
wilt never abandon me. I declare I am in love with thee. 
I have lost inclination and appetite for all the rest ; but as 
for thee, I perceive that the more profusely thou givest 
thyself to me, the more does my heart desire thee and 
love thee. I was then so greedy for the cross that I 
adopted every means to make myself feel affliction. But 
although I caused myself genuine pains, they appeared to 
me so trifling that it only served to reawaken my appetite 
for suffering, and to make me see that God alone can pro- 
duce crosses suitable for satiating souls that are hungering 
for them. The more I used prayer in the way I have said, 
the more the love of the cross increased, and at the same 


time the reality of tlie cross, for they came pouring upon 
mo from all quarters. The characteristic of this prayer 
is further to give a great faith. Mine was without bounds, 
as well as my conlidenco and abandonment to God, lovo 
of his will and of the orders of his providence over me. I 
was previously very timorous : afterwards I no longer 
feared anything. It is then one feels the effects of those 
words of the Gospel, " My yoke is easy, and my burden is 

100 MADAME GUYON. [Pakt 1. 


Fkoji that tirnu I was given an instinct of sacrifice and 
continual immolation ; not in ^YOl•ds, but by a silence that 
expressed all, and which had its real effect. I used to say 
to God, *'0 my Love, what could you desire of me to 
which I would not immolate myself willingly '? Oh, do not 
spare me ! " Then, conceiving in my mind what there was 
most frightful both in the cross and in humiliation, I im- 
molated myself without reluctance. And as these immola- 
tions were accompanied by continual occasions of suffering, 
I may say, it seemed our Lord accepted all my sacrifices, 
and furnished me incessantly with new materials for making 
them to him. I used to say to him, " You are for me a 
husband of blood." I could not hear speak of God or our 
Lord Jesus Christ, without being beside myself. What 
surprised me most is, I had extreme difficulty to say my 
usual vocal prayers. As soon as I opened my mouth to 
pronounce them, love seized me so strongly that I 
continued absorbed in a profound silence and in a peace 
beyond expression. I made new efforts, and I passed 
my life in commencing my prayers without being able 
to finish them. As I never had heard tell of this state, 
I knew not what to do ; but the powerlessness became 
still greater, because love became stronger, more violent, 
and more absorbing. It made in me, without the sound 
of words, a continual prayer, which seemed to me to be 


that of our Lord Jesus Christ himself — prayer of the 
Word, which is effected by the Spirit, who, according to St. 
Paul, asks for us what is good, what is perfect, what is 
conformable to the will of God. I could not ask anything 
for myself or for another, nor wish anything but this 
divine will. I was consoled to find in St. Francis do 
Sales that when one w^ould pray vocally, and that one feels 
one's self drawn to something else, we should follow this 
attraction ; for I could not explain in any way what I 

I sometimes went to see Mother Granger, and she 
helped me ; but my confessor and my hus])and forbade mo 
to go. I dared not even write to her, and, if I had written, 
she could not have answered me, owing to the weakness 
of her sight, so that I did not get much help from her 
When they knew I had been to her, there were never-ending 
quarrels. Yet I condemned myself to rigorous silence. 
My consolation was to communicate as often as I could ; 
but, when this was known, which often enough happened, 
it cost me genuine crosses. My diversion was to go and 
see some poor sick people, and to dress the wounds of 
thope who came to the house. That was the only con- 
solation I had. I was like those drunkards or those 
lovers who think only of their passion. 

I was some time in this way, after which prayer 
became more painful to me. When I was not engaged in it, 
I burned to be so. When I was in it, I could not continue 
so. I did violence to myself in order to remain more in 
prayer when painful than when consolatory. I sometimes 
suffered inexplicable torments. To relieve myself and 
cause diversion, I covered all my body with nettles, but, 
although this gave much pain, what I suffered within was 
such that I hardly felt the pain of the nettles. As the pain 
and the drj-ness still increased, and I no longer found that 
gentle vigour which made me practise good with pleasure, 
my passions, which were not dead, were not slow in waking 

102 ^lADAME GUYON. [Paut I. 

up again, and in giving me new exercise. It seemed to me 
I was like those young wives, who have trouble to get rid 
of the love of themselves, and to follow their friend into 
the battle. I fell back into a vain complaisance for 
myself. This inclination, which appeared to me dead when 
I was so smitten with my Love, revived, and it made me 
groan and pray God incessantly to take away from me this 
obstacle, and make me become uglj-. I would have wished 
to be deaf, blind, and mute, in order that nothing might be 
able to divert me from my Love. 

I went on a journey, where I shone more than ever, like 
those lamps which blaze up afresh when they are on the 
point of going out. Alas ! how many snares were spread 
for mc ! I met them at every step. I committed infidelities ; 
but, my God, with what rigour did you punish them ! 
The least look stirred you to anger against me, and your 
anger was more insupportable to me than death. Those 
unforeseen faults, where I let myself slip through weakness, 
and as it were in spite of myself, how many tears did they 
cost me ! my Love, 3'ou know the rigour you exercised 
on me, after my weaknesses, was not their cause. My God, 
with what pleasure would I have suffered all your rigours 
to escape being unfaithful to you ! and to what severe 
chastisement did I not condemn myself ! You know, my 
God, you treated me sometimes like a father who pities 
the weakness of his child, and caresses it after its little 
slips. How many times did you make me feel that 3'ou 
loved me, although I had stains that appeared to me almost 
voluntary ! It was the sweetness of this Love after my 
falls that made my truest torment. The more amiable 
and good towards me you appeared, the more inconsolable 
was I at turning aside from you, though it should be but 
for moments, and when I had inadvertently done anything, 
I found you ready to receive me, and I said to you, " 
my God, is it possible you should be thus my ins-aller ? 
"What ! I wander from you through vain complaisance 


and in order to dwell npon frivolous objects, and I no 
sooner return to you, than I find you waiting for this return 
with outstretched arms to receive me ! " 

sinner, sinner, couldst thou complain of thy God ? 
Ah ! if tliou still rctainest any justice, admit that thou 
wandercst from him voluntarily ; that thou quittest him 
in spite of him ; that if thou rcturnest, he is ready to 
receive thee ; that if thou rcturnest not, he engages thee 
by all that is most powerful and most tender to do so. 
Thou art deaf to his voice. Thou dost not wish to hear it. 
Thou saycst he does not speak to thee, though he cries 
with all his strength ; because thou makcst thyself each 
day more deaf, in order not to hear his amiable words 
and his charming voice. my Love, you did not cease to 
speak to my heart, and to succour it at need ! 

When I was at Paris, and the confessors saw me so 
young, they were astonished. After I had confessed, they 
said to me that I could not sufficiently thank God for the 
graces he had bestowed on me ; that if I knew them, I 
would be astonished ; and that if I was not faithful, I would 
be the most ungrateful of all creatures. Some declared 
they did not know a woman whom God kept so close and 
in so great purity of conscience. "What made it such was 
that continual care you had over me, my God, making 
me experience j'our intimate presence, as you have promised 
us in your Gospel, " If any one does my will, we will come 
unto him, and make our dwelling in him." This continual 
experience of your presence in me was what guarded me. 
I experienced what your prophet said, " It is in vain one 
watches to guard the city, if the Lord does not guard it." 
You were, my Love, that faithful Guardian, who con- 
tmually defended it against all sorts of enemies, prevent- 
ing the smallest faults, or correcting them, when \'ivacity 
had led mo to commit them. But, alas ! my dear Love, 
when you ceased yourself to watch, how weak was I ! and 
how my enemies prevailed over me ! Let others attribute 

lOi MADATklE GUYOX. [Part I. 

their victories to their fidelity ; for mc I will onl}' attribute 
them to your paternal care. I have too well proved my 
■weakness, and I have made too fatal an experience of vhat 
I should be without you, to presume anything on ni}- care. 
It is to you I owe everything, my Deliverer, and I have 
infinite pleasure in owing it to you. 

While at Paris I relaxed my exercises, owing to the 
little time I had, and, besides, trouble and dryness had 
seized upon my heart. The hand that sustained me was 
hidden, and my Beloved had withdrawn himself. I com- 
mitted many infidelities, for I knew the violent passion 
certain persons had for me, and I suffered them to show 
it ; I was not, however, alone. I also committed faults in 
leaving my neck a little uncovered, although it was not 
nearly so much so as others had it. I wept because I saw 
I was growing slack, and it was a very great torment for 
me. I sought everywhere for him who was consuming my 
soul in secret. I asked news of him, but, alas ! he was 
hardly known to any one. I said to him, " Beloved of 
my soul, if you had been with me, these disasters would 
not have happened to me ! Alas ! ' show me where you feed 
your flock at midday, and where you rest yourself in the 
full day of eternity, which is not like the day of time, 
subject to nights and to eclipses." When I say I said 
this to him, it is only to explain and to make myself 
understood ; for, in truth, everj'thing passed almost in 
silence, and I could not speak. My heart had a language 
which went on without the sound of speech, and it was 
understood by its Beloved, as he understands the profound 
silence of the Word, ever eloquent, who speaks incessantly 
in the depths of the soul. language that experience 
alone can make conceivable ! Let no one fancy it was 
a barren language, an effect of the imagination. Far 
other is the mute language of the Word in the soul ; 
as he never ceases to speak, so he never ceases to 
operate. "He spoke, and they were made." He operates 


in the soul that which he speaks there. Neither let any 
one think that this language of the "Word is carried on in 
distinct speech. It would he a mistake. This must ho 
here explained. 

There are two kinds of speech — mediate speech, which is 
effected either hy some angel, or which forms itself in the 
mind ; and this speech, which sounds and is articulate, 
is mediate speech. But there is a suhstantial speech, 
expressive speech, which operates infinitely more than 
can he conceived — speech which never ceases, and which 
produces its effect, not in distinction, as a thing of the 
moment, hut in reality of operation, which remains fixed 
and immovahle ; speech which is understood hy him in 
whom it is spoken only hy its effects: "lie spoke, and 
they were made ; " " lie commanded, and they were 
created." This inefi'able speech communicates to the 
soul in which it is the facility of speaking without words. 
The speaking of the Word in the soul, the speaking of the 
soul through the Word, the speaking of the Blessed Ones in 
heaven, — oh, how happy the soul to whom this ineffable 
speaking is communicated ! — a speaking which is under- 
stood by souls of the same kind, so that they mutually 
express themselves without speaking, and this expression 
causes an unction of grace, peace, and sweetness, and 
carries with it efl'ects which experience alone can make 
conceivable. Oh, if souls were sufficiently pure to learn 
to speak in this way, they would participate beforehand in 
tlie language of glory. It was this divine speech of the 
Word that made itself felt by St. John, and which 
operated and expressed itself in him, as the Holy Virgin 
approached St. Elizabeth. Those two holy mothers, 
while approaching and uniting, procure for their ofi'spring 
this divine communication, the Holy Virgin giving the 
opportunity to the little Jesus to communicate himself to 
St. John, and St. Elizabeth giving opportunity to St. John 
as she approached" the ]\rother of God, to receive that 

106 MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 

communication of the Word of which she was full. Oh, 
admirable mystery, that the Word alone can operate, and 
that no creature should presume to procure for himself ! 
for his silence being effected only by his effort, it will not 
have the effect of grace, as that of which I speak, since it 
will not have the same princix)le. Oh, if one knew the 
operation of God in souls that abandon themselves to his 
control, and which consent to let him act, one would bo 
charmed by it ! 

To return to my subject, from which I have wandered, 
through yielding to the impetuosity of the spirit which 
makes me write (which may sometimes happen to me, 
and therefore. Sir, I beg you to excuse the want of con- 
tinuity in this narrative, you have desired from me, 
as I am not able to write in any other manner). I 
say, then, that when I saw I defiled myself through too 
much intercourse with creatures, I laboured to finish the 
business that kept me at Paris, in order to return to the 
country; for it seemed to me, O my God, you gave me 
sufficient strength to avoid the occasions, but when the 
occasion offered, I could not guarantee myself from com- 
plaisance and numerous other weaknesses. The pain I 
felt after my faults was so great I cannot explain myself. 
It was not a pain caused by a distinct view, motives, or 
affections ; but it was a devouring fire, which did not cease 
till the fault was purified. It was a banishment from my 
central-depth, whence I clearly felt the Spouse in anger 
rejected me. I could not have access to it ; and, as I could 
not find repose elsewhere, I knew not what to do. I was 
like Noah's dove, that found no rest for its feet, which was 
constrained to return to the ark, but on finding the window 
closed, it only flew round about, unable to enter. Through 
an unfaithfulness which will render me for ever condemn- 
able, I have sometimes wished, in spite of myself, to find 
means of satisfaction without, but I could not. This 
attempt served, my God, to convince mc of my folly. 


and to make me understand the weakness of the pleasures 
that are called innocent. When I forced myself to taste 
them, I felt an extreme repugnance, which, joined to the 
reproach of my infidelity, made me suffer much, and 
changed for me diversions into punishments. I said, '* 
my God, it is not you ; there is none hut you who can give 
solid pleasures." Never has creature experienced more 
the hoimties of God, in spite of my ingratitudes. You 
pursued mc, my God, incessantly, as if the conquest of 
my heart must have constituted your happiness. In my 
astonishment I used sometimes to say to myself, "It seems 
that God has no other care and no other business than to 
think of my soul." 

One day, through infidelity as much as through com- 
plaisance, I went to take a turn at the promenade, more 
in order to have myself looked at through excessive vanity, 
than to enjoy the exercise. my God, in what a way did 
you make me feel this fault ! Some carriages separated to 
come to us ; but far from punishing me by letting me enjoy 
the pleasure, you did it by preserving me, and pressing me 
so closely, that I could pay attention only to my fault, 
and the dissatisfaction you exhibited to me at it. Some 
people wished to give me an entertainment at St. Cloud, 
and had in\ited other ladies, and, though ordinarily I took 
no part in any of these pleasures, I allowed myself to go 
there through w^eakness, and also through vanity ; but, 
my God, how tinged with bitterness was this simple diver- 
sion, which the other ladies present, though discreet, 
enjoyed ! I could not eat anything whatsoever ; yet the 
feast was most magnificent. My disquietude appeared 
upon my countenance, though they were ignorant of the 
cause. What tears it cost me ! and how rigorously you 
punished me for it ! You separated yourself from me for 
more than three months, but in a manner so harsh, that 
there was no longer for me anything but an irritated God. 
I was on this occasion, and during another journey I made 

108 MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 

with m}- husband in Tonrainc before ni}^ small-pox, like 
those animals destined for slaughter, that are decked out 
on certain days with flowers and greenery, and so marched 
through the town l)efore being slaughtered. This weak 
vanity, then on its decline, cast out new fires, but it shone 
thus only to extinguish itself more promptly. 

During all this time I endeavoured to stifle the martjT- 
dom that I felt within, but it was useless. I lamented my 
weakness. I made verses to express my trouble, but they 
served only to augment it. It was such that it must be 
experienced to be understood. I prayed you, my God, 
with tears, to take away this beauty, which had been so 
disastrous to me. I desired to lose it or to cease to love 
it. As you pressed me so closely, O my God, I could not 
resist. In spite of myself, I was obliged to leave every- 
thing, and to return in the greatest haste. Yet, notwith- 
standing my infidelities, you had, my Love, a care for 
me that cannot be understood, as the instance I am about 
to tell will prove. 

One day that I had resolved to go to Notre Dame on foot, 
I told the lackey in attendance to take me the shortest 
way. Providence allowed him to lead me astray. When I 
was on a bridge, there came to me a man very bad]3' 
dressed. I thought he was a poor man, and was about to 
give him alms. He thanked me, and said he did not ask 
it, and drawing near me he commenced his conversation 
on the infinite greatness of God, of which he told me 
admirable things. He then spoke to me of the Holy 
Trinity, in a manner so grand and so exalted, that all I 
had ever heard said on it up to this time, aj)peared to me 
shadows compared to what he told me. Continuing, he 
spoke to me of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, of its 
excellence, of the care one should have in hearing it and 
assisting at it with respect. This man, who did not know 
me, and did not even see my face, for it was covered, said 
to me then, ** I know, Madame, you love God, that you 


are very charitable and give much alms," and many other 
things of the qualities God had given me, "but yet you 
are very much astray. God desires something else from 
you. You love your beauty." Then, giving me a simple 
but true picture of my defects, my heart could not deny 
what ho said. I listened to him in silence and with 
respect, while those who followed mc said I was conversing 
with a mad man. I well felt he was enlightened with the 
true wisdom. He told me, moreover, that God did not 
wish me to be content to work, like others, to secure my 
salvation by merely avoiding the pains of hell ; but that 
he further wished me to arrive at such a perfection in this 
life, that I should avoid even those of purgatory. During 
this conversation the road, though long, appeared to mo 
short. I did not notice it till my arrival at Notre Dame, 
where my extreme fatigue made me fall into a faint. What 
surprised me is that when I arrived at the double bridge, 
and looked on all sides, I no more perceived this man, and 
I have never seen him since. On hearing him speak in 
this way, I asked him who he was ; he told me he had 
once been a porter, but he was so no longer. The thing 
did not then make upon me anything like the impression 
it has since done. I at first related it as a story, without 
telling what he had last said to me ; but having conceived 
there was something divine in it, I spoke of it no more. 

110 MADAME GUYON. [Pabt I. 


It was after this, my husband, having had some relief from 
his continual illness, wished to go to Orleans, and thence 
into Touraine. On this journey, my vanity triumphed, 
to disappear for ever. I received many visits and much 
applause. My God, how clearly I see the folly of men, who 
let themselves be caught b}- a vain beauty ! I hated 
passion, but, according to the external man, I could not 
hate that in me which called it into life, although according 
to the interior man, I ardently desired to be delivered from 
it. my God, you know what this continued combat of 
nature and grace made me suffer. Nature was pleased at 
public approbation, and grace made it feared. I felt 
myself torn asunder, and as if separated from myself ; for I 
very weU felt the injury this universal esteem did me. 
What augmented it was the virtue they believed united 
with my youth and my appearance. my God, they did 
not know that all the virtue was in you alone, and in your 
protection, and all the w^eakness in me. I went to con- 
fessors, to accuse myself of my unfaithfulness, and to 
complain of the revolts I endured ; but they understood not 
my trouble. They esteemed, God, what you condemned. 
They regarded as virtue what appeared to me detestable 
in your eyes, and what made me die of grief is that, far 
from measuring my faults by your graces, they regarded 
what I was in relation to what I might be ; so that, far 


from bhiming me, they flattered my pride. They justified 
me from that of which I accused myself, and they hardly 
regarded, even as a trifling fault, what in me — whom you 
had forcguarded with very great mercy — was infinitely 
displeasing to you, my God. We must not measure the 
gravity of faults by the nature of the sins, hut by the state 
of the person who commits them. The least infidelity of a 
wife is more grievous to her husband than the great errors 
of his servants. I told them my trouble, because I had not 
my neck entirely covered, although I was much better 
than other women of my age. They assured me I was 
dressed very modestly, and that, as my husband wished it, 
there was no harm. My internal Director told mo quite 
the contrary, but I had not the strength to follow him, and 
to dress myself, at my age, in a manner, that would appear 
extraordinary. Besides the vanity I had furnished mo 
with pretexts which appeared to me the justest possible. 
Oh, if confessors knew the injury they cause women by 
these soft complaisances, and the evil it produces, they 
would show a great severity ; for if I had found a single 
confessor who had told me there was harm in being as I 
was, I would not have continued in it a single moment ; 
but my vanity taking the part of the confessors, and tlio 
maids who served me, made me think they were right and 
my troubles were fanciful. 

On this journey we met with accidents and perils which 
would have frightened any other than me. But although 
I had fallen into the weaknesses I have mentioned, it was 
not in my power to fear dangers that appeared inevitable, 
and which frightened everybody. Without thinking of it, 
we got entangled in a place the river Loire had under- 
mined, and the road which appeared sound from above was 
without support. We only perceived the danger when it 
was impossible to turn to the right or left, and it was 
necessary to keep on, or to be precipitated into the river. 
One side of the carriage rolled in the an-, and was only 

112 MADAME GUYON. [Paut I. 

supported by the servants, who held the other side. Nothing 
could exceed the terror. As for me, I felt none of it, and I 
found myself so abandoned to God for all the events his 
providence might permit, that I felt even a distinct joy 
at perishing by a stroke of his hand. However, I had a 
certain secret confidence no accident would happen, and 
this proved true, although, after this, we met with another 
accident that appeared more vexatious. The Holy Virgin, 
for whom I always had a great devotion, delivered us from 
these dangers. I had a very strong faith she would not 
allow persons to perish who had undertaken this journey 
only to honour her in her church of Ardilliers ; for my 
husband had set out on this journey with much fervour, 
and these devotions w^ere to his taste. 

There I went to confession to a man who caused me 
much trouble. He wanted to know the intention I had 
had in getting married : and as I answered him that I had 
had only that of obeying, he told me it was worthless, that 
I was not properly married — I must be remarried. He 
would have caused a breach between my husband and me, 
that we would never see each other again, if I had been 
credulous, and if God had not assisted me ; for he con- 
demned as mortal sin what was absolute dut}^ so that what 
with his proclaiming that all was mortal sin, he would 
have caused us much trouble if God had not assisted us. 
Under pretext of instructing me, he informed me of sins that 
up to then I had been ignorant of, and because in marrying 
my intention had not been to have children, but to obey, 
he gave me excessive penances. But a Father of the 
Company of Jesus, whom I went to see at Orleans on my 
return, released me from them, assuring me I had not com- 
mitted even a venial sin, which much consoled me ; for as 
that other had made mortal sins of all that to which my 
duty obliged me, he would have placed me under the neces- 
sity either of failing in my duty, or of doing things which 
he assured me were mortal sins. I further committed 


faults on tliis journey in looking at what was curious 
when I was taken sight-seeing, although I had the idea 
of turning away my eyes ; this, however, rarely happened. 
On my return I went to see Mother Granger, to whom I 
related all my frailties and my slips. She restored me, 
and encouraged me to resume my former course. She 
told me to cover up entirely my neck with a handkerchief, 
which I have ever since done, although I am the only 
person in this style. Yet you had, my God, concealed 
your anger over a long series of infidelities ; but you shut 
your eyes to them for a time only, to make me pay for 
them with extreme rigour. You acted towards me like 
husbands, vexed at the waste their young wives make of 
the treasures they had confided to them only to render 
them good economists. You determined to despoil me of 
all, that I might no longer abuse a good you had given me 
to glorify you therewith. A hundred times I had had a 
longing to take money and go oflf into some convent, be- 
lieving it permissible, because I imagined it was impossible 
that in the world I could respond to God with the fidelity 
I owed him ; for I felt clearly that opportunity was my 
ruin — without the opportunity I did well, but it no sooner 
presented itself than I experienced my weakness. I would 
have liked to find some cavern to bury myself alive in, and 
it seemed to me the most frightful prison would have been 
more sweet to me than so fatal a liberty. I was as if torn 
asunder, for on the outside my vanity dragged me, and 
within, the divine love ; and as in this time of my infidelities 
I did not entirely turn to one side or the other, I endured 
a division which, while tearing me, made me sufier more 
than I can tell. 

I prayed you, my God, to take away the liberty I had 
of displeasing you, and I said to you, " Are you not strong 
enough to hinder this unjust division?" For as soon as I 
had the opportunity of exhibiting my vanity, I did it ; and 
as soon as I had done it, I returned to you ; and you, far 

VOL. 1. I 

114 MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 

from rejecting me, received me often "with open arms, and 
gave me new proofs of love. That was my bitterest pain, 
for although I had this miserable vanity, my love was such 
that, after my falls, I loved better your rigours than your 
caresses. Your interests were more dear to me than my own, 
and I could not suffer that you should not do justice to 3'^our- 
self. My heart was penetrated with love and grief, and what 
rendered it ver^^ keen was that I could not bear to displease 
you, O my God, after the graces I had received from you. 
That those who do not know you should offend you, I am 
not surprised ; but that this heart, which loves you more 
than itself, and which has felt the strongest proofs of your 
love, should let itself be carried away by tendencies it 
detests, oh, it is that which makes its cruellest martyrdom ; 
and a martyrdom so much the more afflicting, as it lasts 
the longer. my God, I said to 3'ou, when I felt most 
powerfully your love and your presence, ** What ! do you 
throw yourself away on such an infamous creature, who 
pays you only with ingratitude?" For if one reads this 
life attentively, on the part of God there will be seen only 
goodness, mercy, and love ; and on the part of this creature, 
faithlessness, nothingness, sin, and weakness. If there is 
anything good, it is yours, my God ; as for me, I have 
nothing to boast of but my weaknesses, since in the union 
of indissoluble marriage you have made with me, the only 
portion I have brought is weakness, nothingness, and sin. 
Love, how I love my poverty ! and how grateful is my 
heart. What joy it has, to owe all to you, and that towards 
it you make manifest the treasures and the infinite riches 
of your patience and your love ! You have acted like a 
magnificent King, who, desiring to espouse a poor slave, 
forgets her slavery, and gives her all the ornaments he 
wishes her to have to please him. He pardons her even 
with pleasure all the faults her rudeness and bad educa- 
tion cause her to commit : that is your conduct towards 
me, my God ; therefore at present my poverty is my 


riches, and I have found my strength in my extreme 

I say, then, to return to my subject, that your caresses 
after my infidelities were much more difficult for mo to 
bear than your repulses. Oh, if one knew the confusion 
in which they place the soul ! It is not conceivable. That 
soul would wish with all her strength to satisfy the divine 
justice, and if one allowed her, she would tear herself to 
pieces. The martj'rdom of suffering nothing is then the 
most cruel of all martyrdoms. Love, sweet and painful 
at the same time, agreeable and cruel, how difficult thou 
art to bear ! I made verses and hymns to express my 
plaint. I practised penances, but they were too light for 
so great a wound ; they were like those drops of water 
which serve only to render the lire more fierce. One would 
wish to be consumed and punished. Oh, conduct of love 
to an ingrate ! Oh, frightful ingratitude towards such 
goodness ! A gi'cat part of my life is only a tissue of 
similar things, which ought to make me die of grief and 

116 MADAME GUYON. [Paiit I. 


On returniug home, I found my little daughter very ill, from 
her nurse having taken her out while in small-pox, and she 
was near dying. The gout again attacked my husband, 
besides his other ailments, and my eldest son took the 
small-pox so severely that it broke out three times, and at 
last rendered him as disfigured as he had been beautiful. 
I had to commence with this sacrifice, which was followed 
by many others. As soon as I saw small-pox in the house, 
I was certain I must take it. Mother Granger told me to 
go away if I could. My father wished to take me and my 
second son, whom I very tenderly loved, to his house, but 
my mother-in-law would not consent. She persuaded my 
husband it was useless. The doctor she sent for said the 
same thing, that I would take it as well at a distance as 
near at hand, if disposed to take it. I can say she was 
then a second Jephtha, and she innocently sacrificed us 
both. Had she foreseen what happened, I am sure she 
would have acted otherwise, but aged persons have often 
certain maxims, which they are unwilling to give up. All 
the town interested itself. Every one begged her to make 
me leave the house ; that it was cruelty to expose me thus ; 
but you, my God, who had other designs for me, did not 
permit her to consent. Every one attacked me, thinking I 
was unwilling to leave ; for I did not tell any one it was 


owing to their unwillingness, and I had no other instinct 
then but to immolate myself to you, my God, and to 
your divine providence. I made a sacrifice to you of that 
beauty, which without you would have been so fatal to mo ; 
and although I might have withdrawn, in spite of the 
resistance of my mother-in-law, had I wished it, I was not 
willing to do so without their consent, because it seemed 
to me this resistance was an order of heaven. divine 
will of my God, in spite of all my worthlessness, you then 
constituted my life. 

I continued, then, in this abandonment, and in this 
spirit of sacrifice to God, awaiting from moment to moment 
in entire resignation all that it might please him to ordain. 
I cannot tell what nature suffered, for I was like those 
persons who see their death certain, and the remedy easy, 
without being able to avail of it. I was not less troubled 
for my younger son than for myself. My mother-in-law 
had such excessive love for the one who was ill, she cared 
nothing for the others ; yet I am sure, if she had believed 
the small-pox would have killed him, she would have been 
very far from acting as she did. It was a result of your 
providence, O my God, rather than of her temper. You 
make use of creatures and their natural inclination to 
bring things to pass according to your designs ; therefore, 
though I see in creatures conduct which appears at once 
so unreasonable and crucifying, I ascend higher, and I 
regard them as the instruments of your justice, and at the 
same time of your mercy, my God, for your justice is 
quite full of your mercy. 

"When I told my husband that I was sick and the small- 
pox was about to seize me, he said it was my imagination. 
I informed Mother Granger of the situation I was in, and, 
as she had a tender heart, she was troubled at this harsh- 
ness, and encouraged me to immolate myself to our Lord. 
At last, nature, seeing that there was no escape, consented 
to the sacrifice the spirit had already made. On the day of 


St. Francis D'Assisi, 4tb October, 1G70, when aged twenty- 
two years and some months, I found myself so ill at the 
Mass, that all I could do was to communicate. I was near 
fainting in the church. When at home, a great shivering 
seized me, together with a very severe headache and sick- 
ness. They would not believe I was ill, and our Lord 
permitted them to treat me thus harshly; yet in a few 
hours I was so ill I was at once judged in danger. I was 
seized with inflammation of the chest, and the remedies 
for one ailment were very unsuited to the other. The 
doctor, my mother-in-law's friend, was not in the town ; 
nor was the ordinary surgeon. They sent to fetch a 
surgeon, a skilful man, who said I should be bled. My 
mother-in-law would not permit it. I remained utterly 
neglected, so that I was on the point of dying for want of 
help. My husband, not being able to see me, and relying 
entirely upon my mother-in-law, let her act. She had 
resolved that no doctor but her own should treat me, and 
yet she did not send to fetch him, though he was but a 
day's journey off. I believe she opposed the bleeding be- 
cause she, perhaps, feared it might be hurtful to me. She 
was only wrong in not sending to fetch the doctor in whom 
she had confidence. It was you, my God, who ordained 
this conduct for the good of my soul. I saw all those 
things, and the extremity in which I was, but you kept me 
in such a spirit of sacrifice, that I did not open my mouth 
to ask for help. I awaited life or death from your hand, 
without manifesting the least trouble at a course so extra- 
ordinary. The peace I possessed within, owing to the perfect 
resignation in which you kept me, my God, through your 
grace, was so great, that it made me forgetful of myself in 
the midst of the most violent illness and the most pressing 
dangers. But if the resignation you gave me on this 
occasion was so perfect that I may call it uniformity, since 
I did not find in myself any repugnance to your will, and I 
was active in nothing, but bore with love in silence your 


crucifying operation, without adding anything to what you 
operated in mo and upon me — if, I say, my submission 
was entire, your protection was miraculous. How many 
times have you reduced mo to extremity ! but you have 
never failed to succour me when things appeared most 

You brought it about that a skilful surgeon, who had 
attended me in that very dangerous illness I have 
mentioned, passing by the place of my residence, made 
inquiries about mo. He was told I was extremely ill. He 
immediately got off his horse and came to see me. Never 
was man more surprised when he saw the frightful state I 
was in. The small-pox, which could not break out, had 
attacked my nose with such violence it was already quite 
black. He thought there was gangrene, and the nose was 
about to fall off. He was so shocked at it he could not 
conceal his surprise from me. My eyes were like two coals. 
The strange news did not alarm me. It was far short of 
what I sacrificed myself to at that moment, and I was very 
pleased that God should avenge himself of the infidelities 
this face had made me commit. This surgeon went down 
to the room of my mother-in-law, and told her that it was 
a scandalous thing to let me die in this way, for want of a 
blood-letting. She opposed herself violently to it ; she told 
him she would not suffer it, and that nothing should be 
done for mc until the doctor, her friend, returned from the 
country. He got so angry at their leaving me in this way, 
without sending to fetch the doctor, that he said some 
strong things even to my mother-in law. He immediately 
came up to my room, and said to me, " If you consent, I 
will save your life : I will bleed you." I at once stretched 
out my arm to him, and although the arm was extremely 
swollen, he instantly bled me. My mother-in-law was very 
angry. The small-pox at once broke out, and he ordered I 
should bo bled in the evening; but they would not have it, 
and I dared not keep him, however great my need, through 

120 MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 

fear of displeasing my mother-in-law, and from a total 
surrender into the hands of God. 

I give all this in detail, in order to show how advan- 
tageous it is to abandon one's self to God without reserve ; 
although he may leave us apparently some moment to 
prove and exercise our submission, he yet never fails us 
when the need is most pressing. One may say, with 
Scripture, that " it is he who conducts to the gates of death, 
and brings back from them." My nose became its natural 
size and lost its blackness, and the small-pox appeared in 
it at once after the bleeding, and, if they had continued to 
bleed me, I should have got on well ; but as the surgeon 
went away, I fell back into the former state of neglect. All 
the disease settled on my eyes, which became so inflamed 
and painful it was thought I should lose them. I was three 
weeks with these severe pains, without sleeping a quarter 
of an hour during all that time. I could not close the eyes, 
because they were full of small-pox, nor open them owing 
to the pain. I quite expected to be blind, for there was 
every appearance of it. My neck, my palate, and my gums 
were so filled, that I could not swallow broth nor take any 
nourishment without suffering extremely. All my body was 
like that of a leper, and those who came to see me said 
they had never seen any one have it in greater quantity or 
more malignant ; but as for my soul, she was in a content- 
ment I cannot express. The hope of her liberty through 
the loss I endured, rendered her so satisfied and so united 
to God, that she would not have changed her condition for 
that of the happiest prince in the world. 

Every one thought I should be inconsolable, and they 
endeavoured to sympathize in my grief. My confessor 
came to see me, although he was not satisfied with me. 
He asked me if I was not very grieved at having the 
small-pox. I answered him frankly, without much re- 
flection, that if the confusion in which the disease kept 
me had not made me forget the Te Deum, I would have 


said it in thankfulness to God. This worthy man was 
annoyed with me for my answer, deeming me proud. I 
made no reply, and I saw clearly I was wrong in speaking 
to him with bo much freedom, because he did not under- 
stand my disposition. They watched all my words, and, 
when they heard me say I should be free, they took that 
as a complaint I made to you, my God, of my external 
captivity, which they attributed to my husband's jealousy, 
although it was not so. I meant, my God, a liberty you 
alone could give me, in removing that snare for my pride, 
as well as for the passion of men. Oh, if I could describe 
the ineffable pleasure I tasted at the spoliation you made of 
the thing which was then most sensible to me ! My heart 
praised you for it in its profound silence and the pain I 
suffered redoubled my love. They never heard me com- 
plain of my ills, nor the loss I experienced. The tran- 
quillity of my heart expressed itself outwardly by patience 
and silence. I kept silent alike as to what you made me 
suffer through yourself, my God, and through the hand 
of creatures. All was welcome from your hand. The 
only word I said was to rejoice at the interior liberty I 
received thereby, and they made a crime of it. What I 
most felt was that my younger son took the small-pox the 
same day as I, and died of it for want of care. This blow 
was painful to my heart, which, however, drawing strength 
from my weakness, sacrificed him, and said to God, like 
Job, "You had given him to me; you have taken him 
from me ; your holy name be praised." The spirit of 
sacrifice possessed me so strongly, that, although I loved 
him tenderly, I never shed a tear on learning his death. 
The day he was buried, the doctor sent to tell them not 
to put the tombstone on the grave, because my daughter 
could not live two days. My eldest son was not yet out of 
danger when this happened, so that I saw myself almost 
on the same day despoiled of all my children, my husband 
ill, and I still very ill. You were not willing, my God, 

122 MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 

to take my daughter at this time, and you prolonged her 
life for some years, only to render her loss more pamful to 
me. My mother-in-law's doctor arrived at last, at a time 
when he was no longer any use for me. T^lien he saw the 
strange inflammation of my eyes, he caused me to he hied 
several times, hut the time for it was gone, and these 
hleedings, which would have been so necessary at the com- 
mencement, only served to weaken me. My state was such, 
it was with great difficulty they could bleed me, for the 
arm was so swollen they had to bury the lancet up to the 
handle. Moreover, bleeding at such an unsuitable time 
was near causing my death ; but you were not willing, 
my Lord, to withdraw me yet from the world, in order to 
make me suffer more. I declare that death would have 
been very agreeable to me, and I looked upon it as the 
greatest of all blessings ; but I saw well there was nothing 
to hope for in this direction, and, in place of tasting this 
blessing, I had to endure life. 

As soon as my eldest son was a little better, he got up 
to come into my room. I was surprised at the extraordi- 
nary change I saw in him. His face, which before was 
of extreme delicacy, had become like a ploughed field. 
This made me curious to see myself in a mirror. The 
change made me afraid of myself. It was then I saw that 
God had wished the sacrifice in all its reality. There were 
some circumstances which, owing to the perversity of my 
mother-in-law, caused me many crosses, and which finished 
spoiling my sou. My heart was yet firm in my God, and 
strengthened itself by the greatness and multitude of the 
ills. It was like a victim immolated incessantly upon the 
altar of him who had first immolated himself for his love. 
I can say, my God, that those words which have always 
been the delight of my heart, have had their effect iu me 
all my life, " What shall I render unto the Lord for the 
benefits I have received from him ? I will take the cup 
of salvation." You have, during my whole life, crowded 


upon me blessings and crosses. My principal desire, with 
that of suffering for you, my Love, has been to let myself 
bo led at your pleasure, without resistance, whether for the 
interior or for the exterior ; and those gifts, with which it 
has pleased you to favour mo from the commencement, 
have constantly increased up to the present, since you have 
conducted me, according to your v.'ill, by routes impenetrable 
to any other than you ; and you have provided for me, 
through your wisdom, continual crosses. 

Pomades were sent to me to restore my complexion 
and nil up the hollows of the small-pox. I had seen 
wonderful effects from them with others. I at iirst 
wished to try their effect with me, but Love, jealous of 
his work, did not wish it. There was in my heart a voice 
which said, " If I had wished thee beautiful, I would have 
left thee as thou wcrt." I had to give up every remedy, 
and hand myself over a prey to the rigours of Love, who 
compelled me to go into the open air, which increased the 
pitting, and to expose myself to the eyes of everybody in 
the streets without concealment, when the redness from the 
smallpox was most marked, in order to make my humiliation 
triumph where my pride had triumphed. My husband 
was then almost constantly in bed. He made such good 
use of his illness, that I could not regret what God 
sent him, although it involved more captivity for me, and 
more crosses of all kinds. I was very pleased that God 
saved him by this way. As he no longer found in me the 
charms which softened his harshness and calmed his 
anger, he became more susceptible to the impressions that 
were made upon him against me. On the other hand, 
the persons who spoke to him to ray disadvantage, seeing 
themselves better listened to, spoke more strongly and 
more often. There was only you, my God, who did not 
change to me. You redoubled your interior graces in 
proportion as you increased my exterior crosses. 

124 MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 


That maid of whom I spoke became every day more 
arrogant, and as the Devil stirred her up to torment me, 
when she saw that lier outcries did not annoy mo, she 
thought if she could hinder me from communicating, she 
M'ould cause me the greatest of all annoyance. She was 
quite right, Divine Spouse of pure souls, since the only 
satisfaction of my life was to receive you and to honour you. 
I suffered a species of languor when I was some days 
without receiving you. When I was unable, I contented 
myself with keeping some hours near you, and, in order to 
have liberty for it, I applied myself to perpetual adoration. 
I procured, as far as I was able, that the churches should 
he well adorned. I gave the most beautiful things I had 
to make the ornaments. I contributed the most I could to 
provide silver ciboires and chalices. I founded a perpetual 
lamp, in order that its immortal flame should be a sign 
that I did not wish the fire of my love ever to become 
extinct. I said to you, my Love, " Let me be your 
victim, consume me utterly, reduce me to ashes, and spare 
nothing to annihilate me." I felt an inclination that I 
cannot express, to bo nothing. This maid then knew 
my affection for the Holy Sacrament, before which, when 
I could freely, I passed many hours on my knees. She 
took care to watch every day she thought I communi- 
cated. She came to tell my mother-in-law and my 


husband, who wanted nothing more to get into a rage 
against me. There were reprimands which continued 
the whole day. If any word of justification escaped me, 
or any vexation at what they said to me, it was ground 
enough for their saying that I committed sacrilege, and 
crying out against devotion. If I answered nothing, 
that increased their bitterness. They said the most 
stinging things possible to mo. If I fell ill, which hap- 
pened often enough, they took the opportunity to come 
and wrangle with me in my bed, saying it was my com- 
munions and my prayers made me ill; as if to receive 
you, true Source of all good, could cause any ill ! 

This maid told me one day, in her passion, that she 
was going to write to the person she thought to be my 
director, in order that he should hinder me from com- 
municating, and that ho did not know me. When she 
saw I did not answer her, she cried with all her might 
that I ill-treated her, and that I despised her. When 
I went out to go to the Mass, although I had previously 
given orders about household things, she went and told 
my husband I had gone out, and that I had not arranged 
anything. AVhcn 1 returned, I had to put up with much. 
They would not listen to any of my reasons, and declared 
them to be lies. On the other hand, my mother-in-law 
persuaded my sick husband that I let everything be 
destroyed, and that, if she did not take care of them, he 
would bo ruined. lie believed her, and I patiently bore 
everything, endeavouring to do my duty to my best. What 
was most painful to me was, not to know what measure to 
adopt ; for when I ordered anything without her, she com- 
plained I had no consideration for her, that I did every- 
thing in my own way, and that things wore very bad ; then 
she ordered them dilferently. If I asked her what should 
be done, she said that she had to bear the burden of all. 

I had hardly any rest but that I found, my God, 
in love of your will, and in submisbion to its orders. 

126 MADAIIE GtJYON". [Part I. 

although they were full of rigour for me. My words 
and my actions were ceaselessly watched, in order to 
find ground for chiding me. As soon as there was the 
least amhiguity in them, they were converted into crimes. 
I was ridiculed the whole day, the same things being 
incessantly repeated, and that, in the presence of servants. 
"SMiat made me greatly suffer was, that for some time 
I had a weakness that I could not conquer, which God left 
me for my humiliation; this was weeping, so that it made 
me the talk of the house. With all my heart I willed all 
that was done to me, and yet I could not keep back my 
tears, which overwhelmed me with confusion, and doubled 
my crosses ; for it increased their anger. How many 
times have I made my meal of my tears, which appeared 
the most criminal in the world ! They said I should be 
damned ; as if tears had dug hell ! they would be more 
suited to extinguish it. If I repeated anything I had 
heard, they tried to make me responsible for the truth of 
those things. If I kept silence ; it was through scorn and 
ill-temper. If I knew anything and did not tell ; it was a 
crime. If I told it ; I had invented it. Sometimes I was 
tormented several days in succession without being given 
any respite. The maids said I ought to play the invalid 
in order to be left in quiet. I answered nothing ; for Love 
pressed me so closely that he would not I should relieve 
myself by a single word, nor even by a look. 

Sometimes, in the extremity to which natui-e was re- 
duced, I said, " Oh, if I had only some one I could look at, 
and who would listen to me, I should be relieved ! " but 
this was not given me. If at times I happened to find 
relief in anything, God, for some days, removed the 
external cross, and it was for me the greatest of all 
troubles ; its want was for me a chastisement more 
difficult to bear than the greatest crosses. The absence 
of the cross was for me so terrible a cross, that the 
desire for its return made me languish, and led me to 


say, like St. Theresa, "Either to suffer or to die!" It 
was not slow in returning, this charming cross, and the 
strange thing was that, though I desired it so vehe- 
mently, when it returned, it apj^eared to me so heavy 
and hurdensome, it w\as almost insupportahle. 

Although I extremely loved my father, and he also 
loved me very tenderly, I never spoke of my crosses to 
him. A relative, who loved me much, perceived the want 
of kindness with which I was treated. Even in his presence 
very hurtful things were said to me. He went, very in- 
dignant, to tell my father, adding that I made them no 
answer, and I would pass for a stupid. I afterwards went 
to see my father, and he reproved me, contrary to his 
usual practice, rather sharply, because I allowed them to 
treat me as they did, without saying anything — that every 
one ridiculed me for it ; that it seemed I had not the spirit 
to answer. I replied to my father, that if people observed 
what my husband said to me, it was confusion enough for 
me, without bringing more upon myself by my answers ; 
that if it was not remarked, I ought not to bring it into 
prominence, nor make everybody see the weak point of my 
husband ; that by not saying a word, I stopped all dispute, 
whereas I should keep it up by my replies. My father, 
who was very good, told me I did well ; that I should con- 
tinue to act as God would inspire me. He never afterwards 
spoke to me of it. 

What made me most suffer, was that they continually 
spoke to me against my father, for whom I had as much 
respect as tenderness, and against my relatives and those 
I thought highly of. I was much more pained by this 
than by all that was said against me. I could not keep 
myself from defending them, and in that I did ill ; for what 
I said only served to embitter them more. If any one 
complained of my father or my relatives, he was always 
right, and those who previously to their mind were most 
unreasonable persons, were approved, as soon as they 

128 MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 

spoke against my connections. When any one declared 
himself my friend, lie -^-as no longer welcome. I had a 
relation whom I much loved, because of her piety. When 
she came to see me, she was either openly told to go Lack 
again, or she was treated in such a way she was obliged 
to do it. That pained me extremely. If there was any. 
thing true or false against mc, or against my relatives, it 
was used to reproach me with. When any person out of 
the common came, they spoke against me, to people who 
had never seen me, which greatly astonished them ; but 
when they had seen me, they did nothing but pity me. 

Whatever was said against me. Love would not that I 
should justify myself. If I did it, which was seldom, I was 
reproached for it. I did not speak to my husband of what 
my mother-in-law did to me, nor of what that maid did 
to me, except the first year, when I was not sufficiently 
touched by God to endure such treatment. You made 
me do, my Love, still more than all that, for as my 
mother-in-law and my husband were very hasty, they 
oftentimes mutually fell out. It was then I was in 
favour with them. They, in turns, made their complaints 
to me. Never did I tell the one what the other had 
said to me, and although, speaking humanly, it would 
have been to my advantage to profit by the occasion, I 
never used it to complain. On the contrary. Love gave 
me no rest until I had reconciled them. I said so many 
kind things of the one to the other, that I reconciled them. 
Although I was not ignorant, from the frequent experience 
I had had of it, that their reunion would cost me dear, I 
nevertheless did it as quickly as was possible for me. 
Hardly were they reconciled, when they joined together 
against me. 

The crosses would have appeared to me a trifling 
matter if, drawn to it as I felt myself, I had had freedom 
to pray and to be alone ; but I was compelled to remain in 
then- presence, under a subjection that was not conceivable. 

Chap. XVI.] AUTOBIOGlUrur. lliO 

My husband looked at his watch if I was more than lialf 
an hour at prayer, and, when I exceeded it, he was vexed. 
I said to him sometimes, " Give me an hour to divert 
myself ; I will employ it as I please ; " but he would not 
give it to mo for praying, although he would have given it 
to me for diversion, had I wished. I confess my lack of 
experience has caused mo much trouble, and that I have 
thereby often given occasion for their making me suffer ; 
for, in short, was I not bound to see my captivity as an 
effect of your will, O my God, to be content with it, and to 
make of it my sole prayer ; but I often fell back into the 
paltriness of wishing to take time for praying, which was 
not agreeable to my husband. It is true these faults were 
more frequent at the commencement ; afterwards I prayed 
God at his bedside, and did not go out any more. 

One of the things that has given me most trouble at 
the commencement of the way, is that I was so strongly 
occupied within that I forgot many things ; this caused 
me many crosses, and gave ground to my husband for 
being vexed. For though I had an extreme love for all 
that was my duty, and that I preferred it even to every- 
thing else, I nevertheless, without wishing it, forgot a 
number of things, and as my husband did not like one to 
fail in anything, I gave him occasion for getting angry. I, 
however, forgot nothing that was of consequence ; but I 
forgot almost all the small things. The great habit 1 had 
acquired of mortifying my eyes, together with concentration, 
made me pass certain things without remarking them, 
and my mother-in-law, who came after me, saw them, and 
justly got angry with me for my lack of care. However, I 
could not do better, for the more I wished to apply myself, 
the less I succeeded. I went into the garden, without 
remarking anything there, and when my husband, who 
could not go there, asked me news of it, I was unable to 
answer him, and ho got vexed. I went there expressly to 
notice everything in order to tell him I had seen them, and 

VOL. I. £ 

130 MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 

when I was there I forgot, and did not think of looking at 
them. One day, I \Yent more than ten times to the garden, 
to see there something to report to my husband, and I 
forgot it. "When I succeeded in remembering to look at 
things, I was very pleased, and it was usually the time 
when I was not asked for news. As I was also accustomed 
at the commencement, in order to mortify my curiosity, 
^Yhich was very great, to withdraw under some pretext, 
when some agreeable news was being told, and only to 
return when I could no longer understand what was said, 
I fell into an extreme, which was that I neither com- 
prehended nor heard news that was told in my presence ; 
so that, when my husband spoke of it to me, I was 
astonished and confused at not knowing what it was, or 
what to answer, and I thereby became a cause for his grow- 
ing vexed, without being able to avoid it. I would have 
been very glad to do otherwise, for, far from mortifying 
myself at that time in this particular, I would have been 
glad to make myself attentive ; but my attention was lost 
without my understanding how it was, and the more I was 
persuaded I ought to apply myself to please them, the 
more I tried even to do it, the greater was my powerless- 
ness. Often when I wished to say something, I stopped 
short, without being able to form an idea of what I had 
intended to say, and this served not a little to humiliate 



"We went to the country, where I committed many faults, 
allowing myself to be too much carried away by my 
interior attraction. I thought I could do so, because my 
husband was amusing himself in building. He was, 
nevertheless, dissatisfied with it, for I left him too long 
without going to see him where he was, because he was 
constantly speaking to the workmen. I used to place 
myself in a corner, where I worked. I could hardly do 
anything from the strength of the attraction, which made 
the work fall from my hands. I passed hours in this way, 
without being able either to open my eyes or know what 
was going on in me, which was so simple, so peaceful, so 
sweet, that I sometimes said to myself, " Is heaven more 
peaceful than I ? " I told nobody my dispositions, for 
they had nothing l)y which they could ])e distinguished. I 
could not tell anything of them ; all passed in the inmost 
of the soul, and the will enjoyed what I cannot express. 

This disposition was almost continual in the early 
years, and gave me the greatest possible desire to suffer, 
I experienced that this disposition insensibly produced 
another in mc, which was that my will was deadened each 
day, and imperceptibly lost itself in the sole will of God ; 
and I knew by feeling that my interior disposition of simple 
repose in God, without performing particular acts, had the 
effect of taking away, little by little, my will, to make it 

132 MADAME GUYON. [Paut I. 

pass into God. This, moreover, made the soul so supple 
and pliable, that she at once was led to all that God could 
wish of her, though it should be painful. She became 
every day more indifferent to time, place, and states, and 
tasted in a wonderful way that cverj-thing needful for her 
was given at each moment, so that from this time she 
could desire nothing but what she had. This disposition 
extinguished all desires, and I sometimes said to myself, 
*' What dost thou wish ? What dost thou fear ? " And I 
was astonished to find I could not desire or fear anything. 
Every place was my proper place. Everywhere I found 
my centre, because everywhere I found God. The ten- 
dency which appeared to be most marked was for solitude 
and love of the cross ; it was what my whole soul inclined 
herself to. 

As it was with difficulty I ordinarily had any time for 
praying, in order not to disobey my husband, who was 
unwilling I should rise from bed before seven o'clock, I 
bethought me I had only to kneel upon my bed, which, 
because he was ill, was in his room, as I endeavoured to 
show him my attention in everything. I rose at four o'clock, 
and remained on my bed. He thought I slept, and did not 
perceive it ; but this affected my health and did me harm, 
for as my eyes were heavy from the small-pox I had had 
only eight months before, and which had left a serious 
affection of the eyes, this want of sleep made me unable to 
pray without falling asleep, and I did not sleep a moment 
in quiet, as I was apprehensive of not waking up. After 
dinner 1 went to pray my half-hour, and, though I was 
in no way sleepy, I fell asleep at once. I disciplined 
myself with nettles to keep awake, without being able to 

As we had not yet built the chapel, I could not go to 
Mass without the permission of my husband, for we were 
very distant from all kinds of churches, and as ordinarily 
he only allowed me on festivals and Sundays, I could not 


communicate but on those days, however desirous I might 
be for it, unless some priest came to a chapel, which was a 
quarter of a league from our house, and let us know of it. 
As the carriage could not be brought out from the court- 
5'ard without being heard, I could not elude him. I made 
an arrangement with the guardian of the Recolets, who 
was a very holy man. He pretended to go say ]\[ass for some- 
body else, and sent a monk to inform me. It had to be iu 
the early morning, that my husband might not know of it, 
and, although I had much trouble in walking, I went a 
quarter of a league on foot, because I dared not have the 
horses put to the carriage for fear of awaking my husband. 

my God, what a desire did you not give me to receive 
you ! and although my weariness was extreme, all that was 
nothing to me. You performed miracles, my Lord, in 
order to further my desires; for besides that, ordinarily on 
the days I went to hear Mass, my husband woke later, and 
thus I returned before his waking, — how many times have 

1 set out from the house in such threatening weather that 
the maid I took with me said that it would be out of the 
question for me to go on foot, I should be soaked with rain. 
I answered her, with my usual confidence, " God will assist 
us ; " and did I not arrive, my Lord, without being 
wetted ? No sooner was I in the chapel than the water fell 
in torrents. The Mass was no sooner finished than the 
rain ceased entirely, and gave me time to return to the 
house, where, immediately upon my arrival, it recom- 
menced with greater violence. What is surprising is that 
during many years, while I have thus acted, it has never 
happened that I was deceived in my confidence. This good- 
ness you had for me, my God, gave me such a suljmission 
to your providence, that I could not trouble myself or be 
disquieted about anything whatsoever. When I was in the 
town, and did not find any one who could see me, I was 
astonished at priests coming up to me and asking if 
I wished to communionte ; that they would give mo the 

134 MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 

communion. I was not so foolish as to refuse, my 
Love, this present that you yourself made me ; for I did 
not doubt it was you who inspired them with this charity. 
Before I had made my arrangements with the Recolets to 
come and say Mass in the chapel of which I have just 
spoken, you sometimes awaked me, my God, by a start, 
with a strong instinct to get up and go to that chapel, that 
I should there find Masses. The maid I took with me said, 
*'But, Madame, you are about, perhaps, to fatigue yourself 
to no purpose; there will probably be no Mass said," for 
this chapel was not served regularly, and the only Masses 
were those that were caused to be said from time to time 
through the devotion of an individual. I went full of faith, 
in spite of what the maid did to dissuade me ; on arriving, 
I found the priest dressing himself to ascend to the altar. 

If I could tell in detail the providences you had for 
me, which were continual, and threw me into astonishment, 
there would be material to fill volumes. You made me 
find providences quite ready for writing to Mother Granger 
when I was most pressed with troubles, and I felt strong 
instincts to go out sometimes to the gate, where I found a 
messenger from her, who brought me a letter that could 
not otherwise have reached my hands. What I tell is 
nothing in comparison of what there were. These sorts 
of providences were continual. 

I had great confidence in Mother Granger. I concealed 
from her none of my sins nor of my troubles. I would not 
have done the least thing without telling it to her. I 
practised no austerities but those she permitted me. It 
was only my interior dispositions I could not tell, because 
I knew not how to explain them, being very ignorant of 
these things from never having read or heard of them. 
My confessor and my husband forbade me anew to see her. 
It was almost impossible for me to obey, because I had 
very great crosses, and sometimes some little expression 
escaped me through infidelity, when nature was so sorely 


oppressed. This little word Lrougbt upon mo bo many 
crosses, I thought I had committed groat faults ; in such 
confusion was I. I carried within me a continual con- 
demnation of myself, so that T regarded my crosses as 
defects, and l)elievcd I brought them on myself. I knew 
not how to unravel all this, nor how to remedy it; for 
oftentimes an involuntary forgetfulness gave rise to dis- 
satisfaction of several weeks. I made a pretext of going 
to see my father, and I ran to Mother Granger ; but as 
soon as this was discovered there were crosses that I 
cannot express, for it would be difhcult to tell tho excess 
to which their anger against mo proceeded. Tho diffi- 
culty of writing to her was not less, for, as I had an 
extreme horror of lies, I forbade the lackeys lying ; and 
when they were met they were asked whero they went, 
whether they did not carry letters. My mother-in-law 
took up her position in a little porch, so that none could 
go out of tho house without her seeing them, and their 
passing near her. She used to ask them where they went, 
and what they were carrying. It had to be told her, 
and when she knew I had written to Mother Granger, 
there was a terrible commotion. Sometimes when going 
on foot to the Benedictines, I had shoes brought, that it 
might not be seen where I had been, for it was far ; but all 
my precautions were useless, for I dared not go alone, and 
those who followed me had orders to tell wherever I went. 
If they failed in it, they were punished or sent away. 

They constantly spoke evil to me of this holy woman, 
whom in their hearts they esteemed ; but God willed I 
should be in continual trouble and contradiction, for as I 
loved her much, I could not hinder myself from defending 
and speaking well of her ; and this threw them into such 
anger, they watched still more closely to hinder me from 
going to see her. I, however, did all I could to please them. 
It was my constant study, without being able to succeed in 
it, and as I believed devotion consisted in pleasing them, I 

136 ITADAME GUYON. [Pakt I. 

was in despair and angry with myself for all the torment 
they caused me, thinking it was my fault. One of the 
greatest troubles is to believe a thing to be a matter of 
duty, and to labour incessantly to do it, without, however, 
being able to succeed. It is the course of guidance you 
have observed with me, my God, so long as I was 
keeping house. I sometimes complained of it to Mother 
Granger, who said to me, " How should you content them, 
since for more than twenty years I am doing what I can 
for that purpose without being able to succeed?" for as 
my mother-in-law had two daughters in her convent, she 
found fault with everything. 

The cross I felt most was to see my son revolt against 
me, whom they inspired with such a scorn for me, I could 
not see him without dying of grief. When I was in my 
room with any of my friends, he was sent to listen to 
what I said ; and as the child saw it pleased them, he 
invented a hundred things to go and tell them. "What 
caused me the most pain was the loss of this child, with 
whom I had taken extreme trouble. If I surprised him in 
a lie, which often happened, I dared not reprove him. He 
told me, *' My grandmother says you have been a greater 
liar than I." I answered him, '* It is because I have been 
so I better know the odiousness of this vice and the diffi- 
culty of freeing one's self from it ; and it is for this very 
reason that I will not suffer it in you." He used to say 
very offensive things to me, and, because he observed the 
deference I had for his grandmother and his father, when 
in their absence I wished to reprove him for an3'thing, 
he reproached me that I wanted to play the mistress 
because they were not there. They approved all this in the 
child, so that it strengthened him in his evil dispositions. 
One day this child went to see my father, and indiscreetly 
wished to speak of me to my father, as he used to his 
grandmother. My father was moved to tears, and came to 
the house to beg they would punish him ; but nothing was 


(lone, though they promised my father. I had not the 
strength to chastise him. Similar scenes often happened, 
and as the child grew bigger, and there was every pro- 
bability his father would not live, I feared the consequences 
of so bad an education. I told it to Mother Granger, and 
she consoled me, and said that, as I could not remedy it, 
I must suffer it and surrender all to God ; that this child 
would be my cross. 

Another of my troubles was that I could not see my 
attention to my husband was pleasing to him. I knew 
well I displeased him when I was not there ; but when 
I was he never showed any sign that he was pleased 
at it, nor at what I did. On the contrary, he liad nothing 
but repugnance for everything that came from me. I 
sometimes trembled when I approached him, for I well 
knew I should do nothing to his taste ; and if I did not 
come near him, he complained of it. He was so disgusted 
with broths, he could not look at them, and those who 
brought them to him were ill received. Neither my mother- 
in-law nor any of the servants was willing to bring them, 
for fear of suffering from his vexation. I was the only 
one who did not refuse. I used to go and carry them to 
him, and let his anger exhaust itself; then I endeavoured 
pleasantly to induce him to take them, and when he got 
more angry, I patiently waited; then I said to him, "I 
prefer being scolded many times in the day to doing you 
harm by not bringing you what is necessary for you." 
Sometimes he took them ; at other times he pushed them 
away ; but, as he saw my perseverance, he was often con- 
strained to take them. When he was in good humour, and 
I brought him something that would liave been agreeable, 
my mother-in-law took it out of my hands in order to 
carry it to him; and as he thought I did not attend to 
these things, he was annoyed with me, and gave his mother 
great thanks. Love hindered me from saying anything, 
and I suffered all in silence. I used all mv efforts to win 

138 MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 

my mother-iu-law, through my attentions, my presence, 
my services ; yet I was not clever enough to succeed. 
my God, how wearisome without you would be a life like 
that ! This conduct I have just mentioned has always 
continued, with the exception of some very short intervals, 
which served only to make things harder and more felt 
by me. 

CuAi'. XVlll.] AUTOBIOGRAPHY. 189 


It was eight or nine months after I had the small-pox that 
Father La Combe passed by the place of my residence. He 
came to the house, bringing me a letter from Father La 
Mothe, who asked me to see him, as he was a friend of his. 
I had much hesitation whether I should see him, because 
I greatly feared new acquaintances. However, the fear of 
offending Father La Mothe led me to do it. This conver- 
sation, which was short, made him desire to see me once 
more. I felt the same wish on my side ; for I believed he 
either loved God or was quite prepared to love him, and 
I wished everybody to love him. God had already made 
use of me to win three monks of his order. The eagerness 
ho had to see me again led him to come to our country 
house, which was only half a league from the town. Pro- 
vidence made use of a little accident that happened, 
to give me the means of speaking to him ; for as my 
husband, who greatly enjoyed his cleverness, was conversing 
with him, he felt ill, and having gone into the garden, my 
husband told me to go and look for him, lest anything 
might have occurred. I went there. This Father said 
that he had remarked a concentration and such an extra- 
ordinary presence of God on my countenance, that he said 
to himself, " I have never seen a woman like that ; " and 
this was what made him desire to see me again. Wo con- 
versed a little, and you permitted, my God, that I said 

140 MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 

to Lim things which opened to him the way of the interior. 
God bestowed upon him so much grace, through this miser- 
able channel, that he has since declared to me he went 
away changed into another man. I preserved a root of 
esteem for him, for it appeared to me he would be God's ; 
but I was very far from foreseeing that I should ever go to 
a place where he would be. 

My dispositions at this time were a continual prayer, 
without my recognizing it. I only felt a great repose, and a 
great savour of the presence of God, who appeared to me so 
intimate that he was more in me than I myself. The feel- 
ings of it were sometimes stronger and so penetrating that 
I could not resist them, and Love deprived me of all free- 
dom. Sometimes there was such dryness that I felt only 
tlie pain of absence, which was so much the harsher for me 
in proportion as the presence had been more felt. I thought 
that I had lost Love, for in these alternations, when Love 
was present, I so forgot my griefs, they appeared to me only 
as a dream, and in the absences of Love it seemed to me 
that he must never return, and as it appeared to me always 
it was through my fault he had withdrawn from me, this 
made me inconsolable. If I had been able to persuade 
myself that it had been a state through which it was neces- 
sary to pass, I should not have been troubled, since love 
for the will of God would have made all things easy to me ; 
the peculiarity of this prayer being to give a great love for 
the order of God, a sublime faith, and so perfect a confi- 
dence, that one could no longer fear anything, whether 
perils, dangers, death, life, spirit, or thunder ; on the con- 
trary, it rejoices, it gives a great abnegation of self, of its 
interests, of its reputation, and an oblivion of all things. 

At home I was accused of everything that was ill 
done, or spoiled, or broken. I at once told the truth, that 
it was not L They persisted, and I made no answer. Then 
I was accused, not only of the fault, but of having lied. 
Although it was told to visitors, afterwards when I was alone 


with them, I did not disabuse them. Oftentimes I hoard 
things said in my presence to ray friends hkely to deprive 
me of their esteem, but I never spoke to them thereon. 
Love wished secrecy, and to suffer everything without 
justilication. If through inlidehty I happened to justify 
myself, I had no success, and brought upon myself new 
crosses both without and within. But in spite of all this, 
I was so in love with the cross, that my greatest cross would 
have been to have been without it. You sometimes, my 
God, removed from me the cross, to make me feel it the 
more ; and it was then that you redoubled my esteem, taste, 
and desire of it, which was sometimes in such excess, it 
devoured me. When the cross was removed from me for 
some moments, it seemed to me it was owing to the ill use 
I had made of it, and that some infidelity had deprived me 
of so great a blessing ; for I never knew better its value 
than in its loss. kindly cross, my dear delight, my 
faithful companion, as my Saviour was incarnate only to 
die between your arras, should I not be conformed to him 
in this ; and wilt thou not be the means to unite me to 
him for ever ? I often said to j'ou, my Love, " Punish 
me in any other manner, but do not take from me the 
cross ! " 

Although the love of the cross was so great in mo it 
made me languish when the cross was absent, no sooner 
did it return to me, that lovable cross, object of my desires 
and of my hopes, than it concealed from me its beauties to 
show me only its rigours, so that the cross was keenly felt 
by me; and, as soon as I committed any fault, God deprived 
me of it anew, and then it appeared to me in all its beauty, 
and I could not console myself for not having given it 
the reception it merited. I then felt myself burning with 
love for it. It returned, that amiable cross, with so much 
the more force, as my desire was the more vehement. I 
could not reconcile two things that appeared to me so 
much opposed — to desire the cross with so much ardour, 

142 ]\rADAME GUYON. [Part I. 

and to support it -u-ith so much difficulty. These alter- 
nations render it a thousand times more felt, for the spirit 
adapts itself gradually to the cross, and when it commences 
to bear it strongl}-, it is taken a-^ay for a little time, in 
order that its return may surprise and over^Yhelm it. More- 
over, •\Yhen one bears the cross uniformly, one rests upon 
it, and one even becomes so accustomed to it that it does 
not occasion so much pain, for the cross has something 
noble and delicate, which furnishes a great support to the 

The crosses j^ou sent me, my God, were arranged 
in such a way, through your providence, that they could 
not produce this effect. Your perfectly wise hand fitted 
them in such a way, whether by often changing them, 
whether by increasing them, that they were always new 
to me. Oh, how well you know, my God, to weight the 
crosses in the admirable economy that you there observe ! 
It is you alone who know how to crucify in a manner 
suited to the capacity of the creature. You constantly 
give new ones, and such as we do not expect. The interior 
crosses kept pace with the exterior, and they were very 
similar. Your redoubled absences made me die of grief. 
"When you had given me, my God, stronger proofs of 
your love, and my heart thought only of loving you, j-ou 
permitted some unforeseen faults ; then you absented 
yourself so long, and so harshly, that you seemed bound 
never to return, and when my soul began to resign herself, 
and to recognize that this state was more beneficial to her 
than that of abundance, seeing that from the latter she 
nourished her self-hood, and did not make of it the full use 
that she ought, then you returned more powerfully, and 
Diy joy was so much the greater as my grief had been 
deeper. I believe that if God did not maintain this pro- 
cedure, the soul would never die to herself, for self-love is 
so dangerous, it attaches itself and becomes accustomed to 


What caused mc most trouble in this time of con- 
fusion and crucifixion without and within, was an incon- 
ceivable tendency to hastiness, and when any answer a 
trille too sharp escaped nie, which served not a little to 
humiliate me, I was told I was in mortal sin. Nothinj^ 
less than this rigorous guidance, my God, was needed 
with me, for I was so proud, so hasty, and naturally so 
contradictory in temper, wishing always to prevail, and 
thinking my reasons better than those of others, that if 
you had spared mc those hammer-l)lows, you would never 
have polished me to your taste ; for I was so vain I was 
ridiculous. All these crosses were needed to reduce me. 
Applause made me insupportable. I had the defect of 
praising my friends to excess, and blaming others without 
reason. With all my heart I wish to make known my 
paltriness. It seems, my God, to serve admirably as 
shadows to the picture that you have the goodness to 
produce in me. The more criminal I have been, the 
more I owe you, and the less I can attrilnite to myself 
any good. Oh, how l>lind are men who attribute to man 
the sanctity God communicates to him ! I believe, my 
God, you have saints who, after your grace, are extremely 
indebted to their lidelitj'. As for me, my God, I am indebted 
only to you ; it is my pleasure, it is my glory, — I could not 
say it too often. 

I bestowed a great deal in charity. You had given 
me, my God, so much love for the poor, that I would 
have liked to supply all their wants. I could not see them 
in their wretchedness without reproaching myself for my 
wealth. I deprived myself of what I could in order to 
succour them. The best that was served me at table was 
at once removed, owing to the orders I had given, and 
carried to them. There were hardly any poor in the 
place where I resided who did not feel the effects of the 
charity you had given me for them. It seemed, my God, 
that you scarcely wanted alms except from me. I was 

144 MADAME GDYON. [Paut I. 

applied to for everything that others refused, and I said to 
you, " my Love, it is your wealth ; I am only the steward 
of it; I must distribute it according to your will." I 
found means of assisting them without letting myself be 
known, because I had a person who distributed my alms 
in secret. When there were families ashamed of receiving 
charity, I sent it to them as if I had owed it to them. I 
clothed those who were naked, and I had girls taught to 
earn their livelihood, especially those who were good-look- 
ing, in order that, being occupied and having the means 
of living, they might be saved from the occasion of ruining 
themselves. You even made use of me, my God, to 
withdraw some from their irregularities. There was one 
of good birth and handsome, who died very saintly. I 
furnished milk for the little children, and particularly at 
Christmas I redoubled my charities for the little children, 
in honom- of the Child Jesus, who was the centre of my 
love. I went to see the sick — to relieve them, to make 
their beds. I compounded ointments, and dressed their 
wounds. I bui-ied the dead. I secretly supplied artisans 
and shox^keepers with the means of keeping up their shops. 
It would be hardly possible to carry charity fm-ther than 
our Lord made me carry it, according to my state, both as 
wife and widow. 

Our Lord, in order to purify me more thoroughly 
from the mixture I might make of his gifts with my " oirn "- 
love, placed me under very severe interior trials. I began 
to experience that the virtue, which had been so sweet and 
BO easy for me, became an insupportable weight, not that 
I did not extremely love it, but I found myself powerless 
to practise it as I had learned it. The more I loved it, 
the more I struggled to acquire some virtue I saw lacking 
to me, I fell, it seemed to me, into the very opposite of it. 
There was only one thing in which you had always afforded 
me a visible protection — it was chastity. You gave me 
a very great love for it, and you placed its effects in 


my soul, putting away, even during my marriage, by 
provitlenccs, sicknesses, and other means, that which might 
weaken it even innocently ; so that, from the second year 
of my marriage, God so alienated my heart from all 
sensual pleasures, that marriage has been for me in every 
way a very severe trial. For many years, it seems to mo 
that my heart and spirit are so separated from my body, 
that it does things as if it did not do them. If it eats 
or refreshes itself, it is done with such an aloofness that I 
am astonished at it, and with an entire mortification of 
vivacity of sentiment for all natural functions. I belicvo 
I say enough to make myself understood. 

VOL. 1. 

146 IMADAME GUYON. [Part I. 


To resume the thread of my naiTativc, I will say that 
the small-pox had so mjurcd one eye that I feared losing it. 
A gland at the corner of the eye was relaxed, and from 
time to time abscesses formed between the nose and the 
eye, which caused me verj^ great pain until they were 
lanced. I could not endure the pillow, owing to the 
excessive swelling of my whole head. The least noise was 
torture to me, and providence permitted that during this 
time a very great noise was made in my room. Although 
this caused me much pain, the time was nevertheless for 
me a delightful one for two reasons — first, because I was 
left alone in my bed, where I kept a very sweet retreat; 
the second, because it gratified the hunger I had for suffer- 
ing, which was so great that all bodily austerities would 
have been like a drop of water to extinguish a great fire. 
I often had my teeth pulled out, although they did not pain 
me. It was a refr 'shment for mc, and when my teeth 
pained me I did not think of having them pulled out ; on 
the contrar}', they became my good friends, and I was 
regretful of losing them without pain. I once poured 
molten lead on my naked flesh, but it did not cause any 
pain, because it flowed off and did not stick. In sealing 
letters I let Spanish wax fall on me, and this causes more 
pain, because it sticks, \yhen I held a candle, I let it 
come to an end and burn me for a long time. These are 


not crosses, nor pains. Our own choice can cause us only 
liglit crosses. It is for you, my Crucified Love, to cut 
them after your model in order to render them heavy. I 
do not wonder you are painted in the shop of St. Joseph 
making crosses. Oh, how skilful you are at this work! 

2. I asked leave to go to Paris to have my eye treated, 
much less, however, for that reason than to see M. Bertot, 
whom Mother Granger had a little before given me as 
director, and who was a man of profound illumination. 
It was then decided I should go to Paris. I went to say 
farewell to my father, and he embraced me with very 
great tenderness. He did not think, any more than I, it 
was for the last time. Paris was no longer for me a place 
to be dreaded. The world served only to make me con- 
centrated, and the noise of the streets increased my prayer. 
I saw M. Bertot, who was not as useful to me as he would 
have been if at that time I had had the gift of explaining 
myself; but God so conducted me that, whatever desire 
J had to conceal nothing, I could not tell him anything. 
As soon as I spoke to him, everything was taken away 
from my mind, and I could only remember some defects 
I told him. My inner disposition was too simple to be 
able to tell anything of it, and as I saw him very seldom, 
and nothing dwelt in my mind, and I read nothing 
similar to what I experienced, I knew not how to explain 
myself ; besides, I desired to let him know only the evil 
that was in me, for which reason M. Bertot has never 
known me until after his death. This has been very 
useful for me, in depriving me of all support, and making 
me die to myself. 

I resolved, after having seen M. Bertot, and finished 
my cure, to go and pass the ten days from Ascension to 
Pentecost in an abbey four leagues from Paris, the 
Abbess of which had much friendship for me. I thought 
I should there conveniently keep a retreat of ten days. I 
had at that time an extremely strong interior attraction, 

148 MADAME GUYON. [Pakt I. 

and it seemed to rnc, my God, that my union with you 
was continual. I experienced that it constantly grew 
deeper and withdi-ew from the sensible, becoming more 
simple, but at the same time closer and more intimate. 

On the Day of St. Erasmus, the patron of that con- 
vent, at four in the morning, I awoke with a start, having 
a vivid impression my father was dead. I had no rest till 
I had prayed for him as for one dead, and, having done it, I 
was no more troubled ; but there remained with me a strong 
conviction of his death, together with an extreme prostra- 
tion and a pleasing grief, which so overwhelmed my body 
that it was reduced to very great weakness. I went to the 
church, where I no sooner was than a faint seized me, 
and, after I recovered, there remained a loss of voice, 
and I could not speak. I could not eat the smallest thing 
— the concentration and the grief were too powerful. My 
soul was in a divine contentment and strength, and my 
exterior was overwhelmed with grief and weakness. I 
should not have perceived any grief, so great was the con- 
tentment of my soul, if it had not made this jDOwerful 
impression on my body. 

In all these blows, and in an infinity of others, I re- 
marked from the beginning that my will was so supple for 
all your wills, my God, that it had not even a repugnance 
to what you were doing, however hard it might appear to 
nature ; so that I had no need of resigning myself and sub- 
mitting. I could not even do any act, because the thing 
appeared to me all done in me ; there was no longer sub- 
mission nor resignation, but union of my will to yours, 
my God, which was such that it seemed to me mine had 
disappeared. I knew not where to find that '* my will ; " 
but as soon as I sought a will, I found only yours. Mine 
did not appear even in its effects, which are the desires, 
tendencies, and inclinations. It seemed to me it would 
have been impossible to will anything but what you were 
doing in me. If I had a vdll, it appeared to me that it was 


■with joui'R, like two lutes in perfect accord ; that which 
is not touched gives forth the same sound as the one 
touched : it is only one same sound and one single har- 
mony. It is this union of the will which establishes the 
soul in perfect peace. Although my state was already such, 
my will was, however, not lost, though it was so as to its 
operations ; for the strange states it has been necessary 
for me since to pass through have made me see what it 
costs before it has lost all that is "own," in all its circum- 
stances and in all its extent, in order that the soul may 
no longer retain any interest either of time or of eternity, 
but the sole interest of God alone in the manner he himself 
knows, and not in our fashion of conceiving. How many 
souls there are who think their w'ills entirely lost, who yet 
are very far from it ! They would see that they still subsist, 
if our Lord put them to the last proofs. Who is there who 
docs not wish something for himself, be it self-interest, 
wealth, honour, pleasure, ease, liberty, salvation, eternity ? 
And he who thinks that he does not hold to these blessings, 
beca,use he possesses them, would soon perceive his attach- 
ment if he had to lose them. If in a whole century there 
are three persons who arc so <lcad to everything that they 
wish to be the plaything of providence, without any excep- 
tion, they are prodigies of grace. As I am not mistress of 
what I write, I follow no order ; but it is no matter. 

After dinner, while I was with the Abbess, whom I 
told I had very strong presentiments my father was very 
ill, if not dead — we were conversing together a little about 
you, my God, although I could hardly speak, so power- 
fully was I seized within and prostrated without — they 
came to tell her she was wanted in the parlour. It was a 
man who had come in haste, sent by my husband, because 
my father had fallen ill, and as he was so only twelve 
hours, he was dead when the man arrived. The Abbess 
came and told me, "Here is a letter from your husband, 
who sends you word your father is seriously ill." I said 

150 MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 

to her, *'He is dead, Madame; I cannot doubt it." I sent 
at once to Paris to hire a carriage, in order to travel more 
quickly. Mine was waiting for me half-way. I started at 
nine o'clock in the evening. They said that I would be 
lost, for I had with me no one I knew. I had sent my 
maid to Paris to put everything in order, and, as I was in 
a religious house, I had not kept lackeys with me. The 
Abbess told me that, since I believed my father dead, it 
was rashness for me to expose myself in this way ; that 
carriages with difiticulty passed, even the road I must 
follow not being marked out. I replied that it was for me 
an indispensable duty to go and succour my father ; that I 
ought not, for a simple presentiment, to excuse myself from 
this duty. I set out then alone, abandoned to providence, 
with persons strangers to me. My weakness was so great 
that I could not support myself at the back of the carriage, 
and I had often to get out, in spite of my weakness, in 
consequence of the dangerous state of the road. In this 
way I had to pass by night through a forest which is a 
cut-throat place. I was still in it as midnight struck. 
That forest is celebrated for the murders and robberies 
which have been there committed. The boldest persons 
feared it. As for me, my God, I could not fear anything. 
The abandonment I was in to your care made me so 
utterly forget myself, that I could not reflect upon all this. 
Oh, what fears and vexations does a soul that is abandoned 
spare herself ! 

I travelled, then, within five leagues of our residence 
by myself, with my grief and my Love as companions ; but 
at this place I found my confessor and a female relative, 
who were waiting for me. I could not tell the trouble I 
suffered when I saw my confessor ; for besides that, while 
quite alone, I tasted an inexplicable contentment, he, 
having no knowledge of my state, opposed it, and gave me 
no freedom. My grief was of a nature that I could not 
shed a tear, and I was ashamed at learning a thing I knew 


only too well, witbout giving any external sign of grief and 
shedding tears. The peace I possessed within was so pro- 
found that it spread over my coimtcnance. Moreover, the 
state I was in did not permit me to speak, nor perform 
those external acts which are ordinarily expected from 
persons of piety. I could only love and keep silent. 

I arrived at home, and found they had already 
buried my father, owing to the great heat. It was ten 
o'clock at night. Every one was already dressed in 
mourning. I had travelled thirty leagues in one day 
and one night. As I was very weak, as well because my 
state undermined me, as because I had not taken food, I 
was at once put to bed. About two hours after midnight 
my husband got up, and, having left my room, he suddenly 
returned, crying, with all his strength, " My daughter is 
dead ! " It was my only daughter, a child as much loved 
as she was amiable. You had provided her, my God, 
with so many graces, spiritual and corporal, that one 
must have been insensible not to love her. There was 
noticeable in her a quite extraordinary love for God. She 
was constantly found in corners in prayer. As soon as 
she perceived that I prayed to God, she came near me to 
pray, and when she knew I had done it without her, she 
wept bitterly, and said, " You pray to God, and I do not 
pray to him." As my concentration was great, as soon as 
I was at liberty I used to close my eyes, and she used to 
say to me, ** You sleep ? " then suddenly, *' Oh, it is you are 
praying to my good Jesus ! " and place herself near me 
to pray. Holy Wednesday, four months before her death, 
she was given the cross in church to kiss. But when 
she saw them take it from her to give to others, she cried 
out in the church, with all her might, "They are taking 
away my Spouse ! Give me back my Spouse ! " They had 
to give her the crucifix. She took it, and pressing it to 
her heart she cried, "Here is my Spouse. I will never 
have any other." She oftentimes sufl'ered the whip of her 

152 MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 

grandmother, because she said she -u'ould never have any 
other Spouse than our Lord, without their being able to 
make her say otherwise. She was pure and modest as a 
httle angel, very sweet and obedient. Her father, to test her 
obedience, gave her very nasty things to eat, and she ate 
them, in spite of her dislike, without saying anything. She 
was very beautiful, and had a very good figure. Her father 
loved her with passion, and she was very dear to me, much 
more for the qualities of her soul than for those of her 
body. I regarded her as my sole consolation on earth, for 
she had as much attachment for me as her brother had 

She died of an unseasonable blood-letting. But what am 
I sa3dng ? She died by the hand of Love, who wished to 
despoil me of all. There remained to me only the son of 
my sorrow. He fell mortally ill. God gave him back to 
the prayers of Mother Granger, my only consolation after 
God. The news of the death of my daughter surprised 
me very much. My heart was, nevertheless, not shaken, 
although I saw myself deprived at the same time, without 
my having known it, of my father and my daughter, who 
were how dear to me, you know, my God. My interior 
state was such that I could not be either more afflicted for 
all imaginable losses, nor more content for all possible 
blessings. It is necessary to have experienced these 
delicious griefs to comprehend them. I no more wept the 
daughter than the father. All I could say was, "You 
had given her to me. Lord. It pleases you to take her 
Ijack. She was yours." The virtue of my father w^as so 
well Imown, and there would be so much to say, that I 
must keep silence instead of speaking of it. His confidence 
in God, his faith and his patience, were admirable. He 
was the scourge of heresies and novelties. My father and 
my daughter died in the month of July, 1G72. 

The eve of the Magdalen's Day of the same year, 
Mother Granger sent me — I know not by what inspiration 

Cirxr. XIX.] AUTOBIOGRArilY. 1C3 

— a little contract already drawn up. She told mo to fast 
that day and to bestow some extraordinary alms, and next 
morning, the Magdalen's Day, to go and communicate with 
a ring on my linger, and when I had returned home to go 
into my closet, where there was an image of the Holy 
Child Jesus in the arms of his holy mother, and to read 
my contract at his feet, sign it, and put my ring to it. 

The contract was this : " I, N , promise to take for my 

Spouse Our Lord, the Child, and to give myself to him for 
spouse, though unworthy." I asked of him, as dowry of 
my spiritual marriage, crosses, scorn, confusion, disgrace, 
and ignominy ; and I prayed him to give me the grace to 
enter into his dispositions of littleness and annihilation, 
with something else. This I signed ; after which I no 
longer regarded him but as my Divine Husband. Oh, how 
that day has been since for me a day of grace and of 
crosses ! These words were at once put into my mind, 
that he would be to me " a Husband of blood." Since that 
time he has taken me so powerfully for his own, that he 
has perfectly consecrated to himself my body and my 
spirit through the cross. 

Divine Spouse of my soul, it seems to me that 
you then made of mc your living temple, and that you 
yourself consecrated it as churches are consecrated. 
Accordingly, at the celebration of festivals for the dedi- 
cation of the church, did you not make me understand 
that this consecration was a figure of the consecration 
that you had made of me for yourself? And as churches 
are marked with the sign of the cross, you marked me also 
with this same sign. It is this admirable sign with which 
you mark your most chosen friends, according to what St. 
John shows in his Apocalypse. And as at the consecration 
of churches there are candles, which are lighted in the 
place for the crosses, and the candle represents faith and 
charity, so I have ground to believe that you have not 
permitted those virtues to abandon me since that time; 

154 MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 

but as the characteristic of the candle is to gradually 
consume itself by its own fire, and to destroy itself by the 
light and heat which make it live, so it seemed to me that 
it was necessary for my heart to be perfectly destroyed 
and annihilated by this fire of love, and that this fire was 
attached to the cross only to teach me that the cross and 
love would bo the immortal marks of my consecration. 

Since that time crosses have not been spared me, 
and although I had had many previously, I may say they 
were only the shadow of those that I have had to suffer in 
the sequel. As soon as crosses gave me any moment of 
respite, I said to you, " my dear Spouse, I must enjoy my 
dowry ; give me back my cross." You oftentimes granted 
my request. At other times you made me wait for it, and 
ask more than once, and I then saw I had rendered myself 
unworthy of it through some infidelity towards this same 
cross. When the overwhelming and abandonment were 
more severe, 3'ou sometimes consoled me, but ordinarily 
my nom-ishment was a desolation without consolation. 

The Day of the Assumption of the Virgin, the same 
year 1G72, I was in a strange desolation, whether owing to 
the redoubling of the exterior or the overwhelming of the 
interior crosses, and I had gone to hide myself in my 
closet to give some outlet to my grief. I said to you, 
•* My God and my Spouse, you alone know the greatness 
of my trouble." There occurred to me a certain wish, 
" Oh, if M. Bertot knew what I suffer! " M. Bertot, who 
rarely wrote, and even with considerable trouble, wrote 
me a letter of this very date on the cross — the most 
beautiful and the most consoling he has written on that 
subject. It must be noted he was more than a hundred 
leagues from where I was. Sometimes I was so over- 
whelmed, and nature so distracted by the continual 
crosses, which gave me no respite, or, if they seemed to 
give me an instant of repose, it was only to return with 
more fury, and nature was sometimes at such a point 

Chap. XIX.] AUTOBIOGRAmY. 155 

from them that, when alone, I perceived without paying 
attention to it, that my eyes turned from side to side as 
if distracted, seeking if they could not find some relief. 
A word, a sigh, a trifle, or to know that some one sympa- 
thized in my grief, would have relieved me ; but this was 
not granted to me ; not even to look towards the heaven, 
or make a complaint. Love held me then so close, that 
he willed that this miserable nature should be allowed to 
perish without giving it any food. It would have some- 
times wished rcHef, and wished it with so much violence, 
that I suffered infinitely more in restraining it than from 
all the rest. 

You gave my soul, my dear Love, a victorious 
support, which made her triumph over the weaknesses of 
nature, and you even put the knife into her hand to 
destroy it without giving it a moment's respite ; yet this 
nature is so malignant, so full of artifices to preserve its 
life, that at last it took on the rule of nourishing itself 
from its despair. It found succour in the absence of 
all succour. This faithfulness during so continual an 
overwhelming served it for secret food — a fact which it 
concealed with an extreme care, in order not to be dis- 
covered; but your divine eyes were too penetrating not 
to discover its malignity. It is for this reason, my 
Divine Shepherd, you changed your conduct towards it. 
You consoled it for a time with your crook and your staff ; 
that is to say, by yom* conduct, as loving as it was crucify- 
ing; but it was only to reduce it to the last extremities, as 
I shall tell in the sequel. 

mr, MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 


A LADY that I sometimes used to see, as she was wife of 
the governor of our town, had taken a liking to me, hecause^ 
she said, my person and my manners did not displease 
her. She sometimes told me that she therein noticed 
something extraordinary. I believe this great attraction I 
had within shone out upon my exterior ; for there was one 
day a man of the world, who said to an aunt of my 
husband, " I have seen your niece, but one clearly 
perceives she never loses the presence of God," which, 
having been reported to me, greatly surprised me, for I 
did not think he understood what it was to have God 
present in this way. This lady, I say, began to be touched 
by God, because once, when she wished to take me to the 
comedy, I was not willing to go ; for I never used to go to 
it, and I made use of the continued illness of my husband 
for an excuse. She strongly pressed me, and said a con- 
tinued illness like that ought not to binder me from 
diverting myself; that my age was not such that I should 
confine myself to being a nurse. I explained to her the 
reasons I had for behaving so, but she concluded it was 
rather through a principle of piety I did not go, than 
because of my husband's illness, and, having strongly 
urged me to tell her my opinion on the subject of comedy, 
I told her I did not approve of this diversion, especially 
for women truly Christian. As she was much older than 


I, what I said to her made so strong an impression on her 
mind that she never afterwards went to the comedy. 

Once, being with her and with another lady, who 
spoke much and had even studied the Fathers, they 
engaged in a conversation where there was much talk of 
God. The lady spoke of him learnedly. I said hardly 
anything, for I was drawn to keep silence, being even 
grieved at this manner of speaking of God. The lady, my 
friend, came to see me next day, and told me God had so 
powerfully touched her, she could no longer resist. I 
ascribed it to the conversation of the other lady, but she 
said to me, "Your silence had something that spoke to me, 
even to the depth of the soul, and I could not enjoy what 
she was saying to me." On this we spoke with open hearts. 
It was then, my God, that you so entered into the depth 
of her heart, that you never after withdrew up to her 
death. She continued so a-hungered for you, my God, 
that she could not bear to hear anything else spoken of. 
As you wished her to be entirely yours, at the end of three 
months you took from her her husband, whom she loved 
extraordinarily, and by whom she was greatly loved. You 
sent her crosses so terrible and at the same time graces 
so strong, that you made yourself absolute master of her 
heart. After the death of her husband, and the loss of 
almost all her wealth, she came to within four leagues of 
us, to an estate she still had. She obtained my husband's 
consent for me to go and spend eight days with her, to 
console her for her losses. God gave her, through my 
means, all that was necessary for her. She had much 
cleverness. She was astonished that I said to her thiugs so 
far above my grasp. I should have been myself surprised 
at it if I had reflected, for my natural intellect was not 
capable of those things. It was you, my God, who gave 
them to me for her sake, maldng the waters of your grace 
How into her soul without considering the unworthiness of 
the channel which you willed to use. Since that time her 

158 MADA]irE GUYON". [Part I. 

soul has been the temple of the Holy Spirit, and our 
hearts have been united by an indissoluble bond. 

We went together on a little journey, where you 
caused me, my God, to exercise abandonment and 
humiliation without its costing me anything, for your 
grace was so powerful it sustained me. We were all near 
perishing in a river. They were in a terrible fright ; all 
cast themselves out of the carriage, which sank in a quick- 
sand. I remained so abandoned and so possessed interiorly, 
that I could not even think on the danger. You delivered 
me from it, without my having even thought of avoiding 
it. I was so concentrated and so seized interiorly that I 
could do nothing but let myself be drowned, if my God had 
permitted it. It will be said that I am rash. I believe it 
is true, but I prefer to perish through too much confidence 
than to save myself. But what am I saying ? We perish 
only because we cannot trust ourselves to you, my King. 
It is this which constitutes my pleasure, to owe all things 
to you, and it is this which renders me content in my 
abjectness, which I would rather keep all mj' life by 
abandoning myself, than destroy by resting upon myself. 
I would not, however, advise another to behave in this way, 
unless he was in the same dispositions I then was. 

4. As my husband's ailments became every day severer 
and more obstinate, he resolved to go to Ste. Eeine, for 
which he had a great devotion. He appeared to me to 
have a great desire of being alone with me, so that he could 
not help saying, " If people never spoke to me against 
3'ou, I should be more i)leased and you more happy." I 
committed many faults from self-love and self-conscious- 
ness on this journey, and as I was in a very great interior 
abandonment, I had the means of experiencing what I 
should be without you, my God. For some time already 
you had withdrawn from me that sweet interior correspon- 
dence, which previously I had only to follow ; I had become 
like one astray, who no longer found eitber way, path, or 


route, but as I reserve for another place a description of 
the terrible darkness through which I have passed, I will 
continue the course of the narrative. My husband, on his 
return from Ste. Reino, wished to pass by St. Edme, for, as 
he had no children but my eldest son, who was often at 
the gates of death, and he wished extremely to have heirs, 
ho urgently asked for them through the intercession of 
that saint. As for me, I could ask for nothing ; but he was 
heard, and God gave me a second son. The time when I 
was near my confinement was for me one of great conso- 
lation ; for, although I was very ill at my confinement, the 
love I had for the cross made me face it with pleasure. I 
rejoiced that nature must sufi'er so much ; besides, as 1 
was some weeks after my confinement without their ven- 
turing to make me speak, owing to my great weakness, it 
was a time of retreat and silence for me, when I endea- 
voured to compensate myself for the little leisure I had at 
other seasons for praying to you, my God, and remaining 
alone with you. 

I will not speak here of the extraordinary things 
that took place during my pregnancy, having written it 
elsewhere. I will only say that, during those nine months, 
God took a new possession of me. lie did not leave me an 
instant, and those nine months passed in continued unin- 
terrupted enjoyment. As I had already experienced interior 
trouble, weakness, and desertions, this appeared to mc a 
new life. It seemed to me I already enjoyed blessedness ; 
but how dearly this happy time cost mo ! since this enjoy- 
ment, which appeared to me entire and perfect, and so 
much the more perfect as it was more inward, more remote 
from the sensible, more constant, more free from vicissi- 
tudes, was yet only preparatory to a total privation for 
many years, without any support or hope of return. 

This terrible state commenced with the death of a 
person who was my sole consolation, after God. I had, 
before my return from Ste. Picine, learned that Mother 

160 MADAME GUYON. [Paut I. 

Granger was dead. I declare that this blow was the most 
severely felt of any I yet had. You loft me to drink, my 
God, all its bitterness, and as you left me then in simple 
weakness, I suffered much at seeing myself thereby deprived 
of all created supports. It seemed to me that if I had been 
present at her death, I should have been able to speak to 
her, and learn something ; but God has willed that I have 
been absent in almost all my losses, in order to render the 
blows more afflictive. It is true, some months before her 
death, I had a perception (although I could see this Mother 
only with extreme difficulty, and suffering for it), she was 
yet a support to me ; and our Lord made me know that it 
would be good for me to be deprived of it. But at the time 
she died that was no longer present to me. As I felt my- 
self utterly deserted inwardly and outwardly, I thought 
only of the loss I sustained in a person who would have 
conducted me on a road where I no longer found track nor 
path. my God, how well you know how to inflict your 
blows ! You had left me this Mother at a time when she was 
but little useful to me, since from the care you had of me 
and your continual guidance of me, except at certain times, 
I had nothing to do but to follow you step by step, while at the 
time that you deprived me as to the interior of all perceived 
guidance, that you overturned my paths, that you blocked 
my ways with squared stones — it is at this time you took 
from me her who could guide me in this road, all devious, 
covered with precipices and sowed with thorns. 

adorable conducting of my God ! There must 
be no guide for him whom you wish to lead astray, no con- 
ductor for him whom you wish to destroy. After having 
saved me with so much mercy, my Love, after having 
conducted me by the hand in your paths, it seems that you 
have been eager for my destruction. Shall not one say 
of you that you save only to destroy ; that you no longer 
go to seek the lost sheep ? You take pleasure in building 
that which is destroyed and destroying what is built. 


Therein, then, is the play of your magniiicence, and it is in 
this way you overthrow the temple so carefully and almost 
miraculously built by the hand of men, to rebuild one that 
shall not be made by the hand of men ! secrets of the 
incomprehensible ^Yisdom of my God, unknown to any other 
but him! Yet it is an adorable wisdom which the men 
of the present day wish to penetrate, and to which they 
impose limits. They anticipate upon the knowledge of 
God, and desire not merely to equal, but to surpass it. 
" Oh, depth of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God ! 
how incomprehensible are his judgments, and his ways 
impossible to find out ! for who has known the thoughts of 
the Lord, or who has been his counsellor ? " Yet people 
wish to penetrate this wisdom, although it be "hid from 
the eyes of all living, unknown even to the birds of the 
heaven." Wisdom, of which one can have news only by 
death to all things, and by total loss. M. Bertot, although 
a hundred leagues from the place where Mother Granger 
died, had knowledge of her death and of her blessedness, as 
also had another monk. She died in lethargy, and as they 
spoke of me to her in order to rouse her, she said, ** I 
have always loved her for God and in God," and spoke no 
more after. I had not any presentiment of her death. 

To increase my exterior crosses, my brother changed 
towards me, for his hatred was noticed by everybody. His 
marriage took place at this time, and my husband had the 
amiability to go to it, although he was ill, and the road so 
luid and so covered with snow that we were on the point 
of upsetting more than fifteen times; but my brother, far 
from being grateful, quarrelled more than ever with my 
husband. I had to suffer from two persons who made me 
the mark for their vexation. On this occasion all the right 
was with my husband, and the wrong with my brother. 
The whole time I was at Orleans, where this wedding took 
place, I had a remnant of aftcction so strong that it 
devoured me. I committed many faults, for I gave way to 

VOL. I. il 

162 MADAME GUTO^. [Pakt T. 

it too mncli, remaining too long at church, at the expense 
of the attention I owed my husband ; but I ^Yas then so in- 
toxicated with love that I only perceived the fault when 
the remedy was past. I committed also another, which 
was in being too expansive in speaking to a Jesuit Father 
of what I then felt, which was very strong. He was one of 
those who admire these sorts of things, and, as it appeared 
to do him good, and I felt a great gratification in speaking 
to him, I gave way to it. It was a notable fault which 
happened to me sometimes at that period, but never since. 
Oh, how often one mistakes nature for grace ! and how 
dead to self one must be for these outpourings to be from 
God ! I had so many scruples at it, that I at once wrote to 
M. Bertot. 

While returning from Orleans, I had the same pre- 
occupation as in going there, so that, though there was 
much greater danger on the return, I had no attention 
for myself, but only for my husband, and on seeing the 
carriage upsetting, I said to him, "Have no fear; it is on 
my side it is turning over : you will not be injured." I 
believe everything might have perished, and I should not 
have been disturbed, and my peace was so profound 
nothing could shake it. If these times lasted, one would 
be too strong, but, as I said, they began to come only very 
rarely, and for a short period, and to be followed by longer 
and trying privations. On the return from the w^edding, 
my brother treated me with extreme contempt. As I had 
had much attachment for him, these blows were keenly 
felt by me. Since that time he has greatly changed, and 
has turned towards God, although he has never altered as 
regards me. I am, however, glad he is reformed. The 
loss of my brother has been the more felt by me, as he 
cost me many crosses, both on the part of my husband 
and of others. I can say the crosses he has caused me 
and has procured for me since that time have been some 
of my greatest. It is not that he is not virtuous, but it is 

Chap. XX.] AUTOBIOaRAniY. 163 

an altogotber special permission of God and his providenco 
in conducting my soul, which has brouglit to pass that ho 
aud all the other persons of piety who have persecuted mo 
have thought to render glory to God by doing it, and to 
acquire merits ; and they were right ; for what greater 
justice than this, that all creatures should be unfaithful to 
me, and declare themselves against her who had been so 
many times unfaithful to her God, and had taken the 
opposite side ? 

We had, further, after this, an ailair that cost mo 
great crosses, and which seemed to have been brought 
about simply for that. There was a person who conceived 
such an ill feeling towards my husband, that he determined 
to ruin him if he could. The only means he found was to 
make friends with my brother, in order to induce him to do 
readily what he wished. He agreed with him to demand 
from us in the name of Monsieur, the brother of the liing, 
two hundred thousand livres, which he made out my brother 
and I owed him. My brother signed the documents under 
an assurance that he should not pay anything of it for his 
part. I believe his extreme youth engaged him in a busi- 
ness he, perhaps, did not understand. This affair gave so 
much annoyance to my husband, and justly, that I have 
reason to believe it greatly hastened his end. He was so 
indignant with me at this, for which I was no way respon- 
sible, that he could not speak to me without anger. He 
would not instruct me in the matter, and I Imew not its 
nature. He said he was not willing to mix himself up in 
this busmess, that he was going to hand over my property 
and leave me to live as I could, and a hundred things still 
more harsh. On the other hand, my brother was not willing 
to canvass, nor that any one else should do so. The day it 
was to be decided, there was one portion of the judges who 
were both judges and parties. After Mass I felt myself 
strongly urged to go and see the judges. I was extremely 
surprised to lind that I knew all the twists and niceties of 

164 MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 

this business, without knowing how I had been able to 
learn it. The first judge was so surprised to see a thing 
so different from what he thought, that he himself urged 
me to go and see the other judges, and especially the In- 
tendant, who was acting uprightly, but who was misin- 
formed. You gave, my God, so much power to my 
words for making known the truth, that the Intendant 
could not sufticiently thank me for having made it known 
to him. He assured me that if I had not been to speak to 
him, the affair was lost ; and when they saw the falsity of 
the whole business, they would have condemned the party 
to the costs, if we had not had to do with so great a Prince, 
who had only lent his name to officers that had misled 
him. To save the honour of Monsieur, judgment was given 
against us for fifty crowns, so that two hundred thousand 
livres were reduced to one hundred and fifty. My husband 
was very pleased at what I had done, but my brother ap- 
peared to me so angry at it, that if I had caused him a 
very great loss he could not have been more so. 



About this time I fell into a state of total privation, very 
great and very long ; in a state of weakness and entire 
desertion, wliicli lasted near seven years. grief the 
most violent of griefs ! This heart, which was occupied 
only with its God, found itself no longer occupied but with 
the creature. It seemed to be cast down from the throne 
of God to live, like Nebuchadnezzar, for seven years with the 
beasts. But before describing this deplorable state, which, 
through the altogether admirable use Divine Wisdom 
made of it, was advantageous to me, I must tell the 
infidelities I committed in it. 

As I commenced to lose you, my God, and to lose you 
utterly — at least as far as perceptible sentiment (because 
for a considerable time there was no question of the 
sensible or the distinct) ; as I commenced, I say, to lose you 
in this way, my Love, it appeared to me that I fell each 
day into the purely natural, and that I no longer loved you 
at all — a thing which I had only experienced by alterna- 
tions. For although, before entering into this state, 1 had 
experienced long privations, almost continual towards the 
close, I had however, from time to time, inflowings of your 
Divinity, so profound and so inward, so quick and so 
penetrating, that it was easy for me to judge that you 
were only concealed for me, but not lost. Although during 
the time of privations it appeared to me that I had lost 

166 MADAME GUYON. [Paut I. 

you totally, a certain profound support nevertheless sub- 
sisted, -without the soul thinking she had it, and she has 
recognized this support only by its entire absence in the 
sequel. All the times that you returned with greater good- 
ness and power, you returned also with greater magnificence, 
so that you re-established in a few hours the ruins of my 
infidelities, and you profusely compensated for my losses ; 
but it was not the same during the whole time of which I 
am about to speak. 

During the other privations my soul continually sought 
him whom she had lost. Her searching, though caused by 
her loss, and by a loss that she believed to arise from her 
own fault, was still a guarantee of her love ; for one seeks 
not that which one does not love, and the languor she 
suflered from seeing herself deprived of her love was a mark 
of the fidelity of that same love. Moreover, she had a very 
great support, though it did not appear to her, which was 
that the heart was void of all love, and that she could say 
to her God, " If I love not you, I am confident I love 
nothing else ; " but here it is quite the contrary ; not only 
does it appear one no longer loves, but this heart so loving 
and so beloved finds itself filled only with the love of 
creatures and of itself. At all the other times one was 
not deprived of every facility for doing good; though 
one did it in a languishing and tasteless manner, often 
even with repugnance, one nevertheless did it ; but here it is 
no longer repugnance, but impotence — an impotence of such 
a nature that the soul does not know her impotence ; it 
appears only as an unwillingness to do it. 

I have always remarked, these eighteen years back, that 
the time of great festivals, of those even for which I had a 
singular afi"ection, was that when interiorly I was most 
forsaken. What will appear surprising is that when I com- 
municated, however penetrated by God I might previously 
be, dryness took the place of abundance, and emptiness 
that of plenitude. At present I know very well its cause, 


which was that, as my road was a road of death and of 
faith, the great festivals and the reception of the Sacrament 
operated in rac accordinf,' to the designs of God, deatli, 
faith, cross, spohation, annihilation ; for our God operates 
throngli his mysteries and through his Sacraments that 
which he operates through himself, so that if the state is 
entirely in the sentiments, the Sacraments and the mysteries 
celebrated at the festivals operate quick and tender 
sentiments of God. If the state is in light, they operate 
admirable lights, either active or passive, according to the 
degree of the soul. If it is faith, they will operate dryness, 
obscurity, more or less, according to tlio degree of faith, 
and so with the rest. They operate crosses, spoliation, 
annihilation, according to the designs of God for the souls 
and the degree of each one. It is the same with prayer — it 
is dry, obscure, crucifying, despoiling, annihilating, etc. 
Those who complain of prayer (supposing fidelity), and 
what they experience at the reception of the Sacraments, 
do it only for want of light ; for there is always given to 
them what is needful for them, although not what they 
wish and desire. If one was thoroughly convinced of 
these truths, far from passing all his life in complaining 
of God and of himself, one would employ it only in making 
use in death and dying fidelity of all these different dis- 
positions in which God places us, so that by causing death 
to us they would procure for us life. 

For it is an admirable thing how all our welfare, 
spiritual, temporal, and eternal, consists in abandoning 
ourselves to God, leaving him to do in us and with us all 
that shall please him, with so much greater willingness as 
things satisfy us less; so that, by this submission and 
dependence upon the Spirit of God, all is given us, and 
in the hand of God all serves us admirably, even our 
weaknesses, our paltriness and defects — I say more, our 
sins, which are a fruit and a source of death, oftentimes 
become in the hand of God a source of liff tlirough the 

168 MADAME GUYON. [Paht I. 

humiliation they cause us. If the soul ^Yas faithful to 
leave herself in the hand of God, sustaining all his opera- 
tions, gratifying and crucifying, leaving herself from 
moment to moment to be conducted and destroyed by 
the strokes and leadings of his divine providence, without 
complaining of God, nor wishing anything else but what 
she has, she would soon attain to the experience of 
eternal truth, although she should know only later the 
ways and the leadings of God with her. 

But the misfortune is that we wish to conduct God, far 
from allowing ourselves to be conducted by him. We wish 
to point out a road in place of blindly following that which 
he traces for us ; and this is the cause why many souls, 
which would be destined to enjoy even God in himself, 
and not his gifts in them, pass all their life in running 
after little consolations and feasting on them, confining 
themselves to that, and even making their happiness 
consist in that. For you, my dear children, if my chains 
and my captivity touch you, I pray you, they may serve 
to engage you to seek God only for himself ; never to wish 
to possess him save by the death of all that 3'ou are, to 
enjoy him only in loss. Never aim to be anything in the 
ways of the intellect, but yield to the most profound 

I fell then into the purely natural ; yet my infidelities 
were of a kind that would have appeared a good and 
virtue to any other but to my God, who does not judge 
virtue by the name people give it, but by the purity and 
uprightness of the heart that practises it. I felt my incli- 
nation grow each daj', and that my heart, which previously 
was occupied and filled with its God alone, was full and 
occupied only with creatures. I used all sorts of penances, 
prayers, pilgrimages, and vows. It seemed, O my God, 
I found an increase of my ill in all that I took as a 
remedy for it, so that I entered upon an inconceivable 
desolation. I can say tears became my drink, and grief 


my nourishment. Whereas your love, my God, had 
put in my heart a peace as profound as it seemed un- 
alterable, this inclination brought trouble and confusion 
into my heart with so much force that I could not resist 
the violence. 

I had two enemies equally powerful, who never gained 
the victory one over the other, so that they mutually 
combated with the more obstinacy as the advantage never 
turned to either side. It was the desire of pleasing you, 
my God, and the fear of displeasing you — a leaning of 
my whole centre towards you, my supreme Felicity, and 
an impulse of my whole self towards the creature ; but as 
this latter was strongly felt, the other appeared to me 
only as a thing that was not. Whenever I was alone, I 
shed torrents of tears, and I said with equal dryness and 
desolation, "Is it possible that I have received so many 
graces from God only to lose them ; that I have loved him 
with so much ardour only to hate him eternally; that his 
benefits have served as matter for my ingratitude? His 
fidelity, shall it only bo requited by my infidelity? Has 
my heart been so long filled with him alone, only in order 
to be the more empty of him ; and has it been emptied of 
all created objects, only to be more strongly filled with 
them?" On the other hand, I could not find pleasure in 
conversations which I sought as if in spite of myself. I 
had within me an executioner, who tormented mc without 
relaxation. I felt within me a pain that I could never make 
understood save by those who have experienced it. 

I lost all prayer, being utterly unable to use any. The 
time I took for it was filled only with creatures, and quite 
void of God. It served only to make me better feel my loss 
and my misfortune, because then there was no diversion. 
I could no longer mortify myself, and my appetite woke 
up again for a thousand things, and when I used them I 
found therein no taste ; so there remained to me only 
disgust at having been unfaithful, witliout having the 

170 MADAME GUYOX. [Part I. 

satisfaction I had promised myself. I could not express 
vrhat I suffered, and the infidelities I committed during this 
time. I believed myself lost : for all I had for exterior and 
interior ^Yas taken from me. M. Bertot gave me no help, 
and God permitted that he misunderstood one of my letters, 
and even abandoned me for a long time in my greatest 
need, as I shall tell in its place. 

Vfhai could I do in this state ? The heaven was shut 
for me, and it seemed to me it was with justice. I could 
neither console myself nor complain of it. I had not any 
creature on earth to whom I could address myself, and if I 
wished to address myself to some saint, besides that I had 
not any facility, since for many years I found them only 
in God, I then found them only full of the fury of God. 
The Holy Virgin, for whom I had had a very great and 
tender devotion from my youth, appeared to me inaccessible. 
I knew not to whom to address myself, or where to find 
help ; there was none either in heaven or on earth. If I 
wished to seek it in my central depth, and to find him 
who once possessed it so powerfully, not only did I find 
nothing there, but I was even rejected with violence. I 
was banished from all beings, without being able to find 
support or refuge in anything. This is a grief the most 
terrible of all, and which also causes death. I could no 
more practise any virtue, and the virtues which had been 
most familiar to me had more utterly abandoned me. 

There was no longer for me a God, Husband, Father, 
Lover — if I dared to call him so. There was only a rigorous 
Judge, whose anger appeared to kindle every day. Oh, if I 
had been able to find in the abyss a place to conceal me from 
his fury, without withdrawing me from his justice, I would 
have availed myself of it. I could no more go to see the 
poor ; either I forgot them entirely, or I no longer found 
the time for it, or I had a disgust for it that amounted to 
opposition. If I would do violence to myself, to go to them 
in spite of my repugnance, I found myself most part of the 


time in veritable impotence. If, in short, I sometimes made 
an effort to go to them, I could not remain there a moment, 
and if I wished to speak to them, it was impossible for mc. 
When I would force myself, I said absurdities that had not 
common sense. 1 could no longer remain a moment at 
church, and whereas formerly it was torture to me not to 
have time to pray, my torture then was to have time 
and to be obliged to be at church. I neither took in, nor 
heard anything. The Mass went on without my being 
able to pay any attention. I sometimes heard several in 
succession, in order to make up by the one the defect 
of that which had preceded, but it was still worse. My 
eyes, which formerly of themselves closed in spite of me, 
then continued open, without it being possible for me to 
close them or to concentrate myself a moment. 

All creatures leagued themselves against me, and 
external crosses redoubled in proportion as those within 
increased. I would have liked to have practised penances, 
but besides that they had been forbidden to me at this 
time, in the disposition I was in, it was as if impossible for 
me to perform them. I had not the courage, and when I 
wished to try, everything fell from my hands. It seemed 
that God had given me M. Bertot only to deprive me of 
supports, and not for me to use. For after I had entered 
on this state, without his knowing anything of it, he forbade 
me all kinds of penances, and told me that I was not worthj' 
of practising them. It was not hard to persuade me of this, 
since I thought there was not upon the earth a more wicked 
person than I. These sentiments were so keen at the 
commencement that there was not a criminal in the world 
I did not justify in my mind, while condemning myself: 
for that those men had offended God, and were offending 
him, while not knowing him, this appeared to me endur- 
able by your goodness, my God ; but that a creature who 
had known you, who had loved you, and on whom you 
had bestowed graces enough to save an entire world. 

172 MADAME GUYON. [Part ]. 

should have become vrhat I -was, that ajipeared to me 

I sometimes gave way to exterior hastiness, without any 
power to control myself. I could no longer restrain my 
tongue. I was like those children who cannot help them- 
selves from falling. I made some verses which were 
subjects of infidelity' for me. I resolved to make no more, 
but my resolutions were barren. It was enough for me to 
have formed a resolution, to immediately do the contrary. 
You deprived me of all facility for carrying it out. I could 
no longer speak of you, my God ; I envied all those who 
loved you. Oh, is it possible this heart, all fire, should 
have become ice ; that this heart, so loving, should have 
fallen into the most utter indifierence ? It seemed to me 
at every moment as if hell were about to open to swallow 
me up, and that which then caused me so much terror 
would have afterwards been the object of my wishes ; for 
it must be understood I believed myself guilty of all the 
sins of which I had the sentiments, and as I had the senti- 
ment of all sins I believed myself to have the reality. I 
could not believe, my God, that you should ever pardon 
me. Everything was so efi'aced from my mind that I no 
longer regarded myself but as a victim destined to hell. 
The illness I previously endured with pleasure became in- 
supportable to me. A slight headache made me shudder ; I 
felt in myself only movements of impatience. In place of 
that peace of paradise there was a trouble of hell. Formerly 
I rejoiced before my lying-in because I must suffer in it, 
and then I feared the shadow of pain. 



But before speaking furtbcr of a state which was only 
commencing, and the course of which has been so long 
and trying, I must resume where I stopped ; and under- 
stand, that all I shall hereafter tell was accompanied by 
the state of which I have just spoken. As my husband 
approached his end, his ailments were without relaxation. 
Ho no sooner escaped from one illness than he fell into 
another : gout, fever, gravel, succeeded each other inces- 
santly. He suffered great pain with considerable patience. 
He offered it to you, my God, and made a good use of it. 
The anger ho had against me increased, because they 
multiplied reports, and did nothing but embitter him. Ho 
was the more susceptible of these impressions as his ail- 
ments gave him the greater tendency to vexation. Even 
that maid who tormented me sometimes took compassion 
on me, and came to fetch me as soon as I had gone into 
my closet, saying, *' Come to monsieur, in order that your 
mother-in-law may not speak any more against you." I 
pretended to be ignorant of all, but he could not conceal 
from me his annoyance, nor even endure me. My mother- 
in-law at the same time no longer observed any measure, 
and all those who came to the house were witnesses of the 
continual rudeness to which I was subjected. What is sur- 
prising is that though 1 had the sentiments of which I 
have spoken, and the pains I have described and shall 

174 MADA^IE GUYON. [Pakt 1. 

describe, I nevertheless suffered with mucli patience ; but 
this did not appear to me, o^Ying to the frightful revolt I 
felt within against all that was said to me, and as I some- 
times broke out in hastiness, but seldom, I thought that 
this joined to the inward revolt was a crime. 

My husband, some time before his death, had built a 
chapel in the country where we spent part of the summer. 
I had the advantage of hearing Mass every day, and com- 
municating, but not daring to do it every day openly, the 
priest kept a wafer without their noticing it, and as soon 
as they had gone out, he gave me the Communion. The 
dedication of this little chapel was celebrated, and though 
I already was beginning to enter upon the state I have 
just described, as soon as the blessing was commenced, 
suddenly I felt myself seized within, and my seizure, 
which lasted more than five hours, the whole time of the 
ceremony, was that our Lord made a new consecration of 
me to himself. This chapel was only the figure of that one 
which our Lord made in me ; but in a manner so powerful, 
so real, though very inward, that it seems to me I was for 
him a temple consecrated for time and for eternitj^ I said 
to you, *' my God, let this temple never be profaned " — 
speaking of both one and the other — *' and let your praises 
be sung there for ever." It seems you promised it to me, 
although everything was at once taken away, and there did 
not remain even a memory that could console me. 

AVhen I was at this country house, which was only a 
small pleasure house, before the chapel was built, I used 
to pray in the woods and in closets. As I greatly loved the 
cross, I caused crosses to be put up in many places, and 
these served me as a hermitage. How many times have 
you preserved me, my God, from dangers and venomous 
beasts ? Sometimes, without thinking of it, I knelt upon 
serpents, which were numerous, and they went off without 
doing me any harm. Have you not preserved me from a 
furious bull, though I had an antipathy for these animals, 

CiiAr. XXir.] AUTOBIOGRAniY. 175 

and the}^ for mc, so that among many persons tlicy would 
seek me out and run at me ? I continued without concern, 
and it seemed their fury fell before me. I was shut up alone 
in a little wood, where was this furious hull. Every one 
cried out to take care. He took to flight without doing me 
any barm. If I could count all your providences regarding 
me, one would be charmed at them ; but they were so 
frequent and so continued that I can only wonder and 
be astonished. You were continually attentive to me, as 
if I had been the only object of your cares. This has 
been very marked, especially at the commencement, and 
until I fell into the state I have just mentioned, when your 
divine providence seemed to have abandoned me, and 
delivered mc to your justice. At the present moment I 
have no repugnance to write my life. Is there anything, 
my God, but a multitude of kindnesses on your part ; and 
on mine, ingratitude, infidelity, paltriness ? All therein 
is for you glorious, and there is nothing but cause of con- 
fusion for me ; you there give without limit to one who has 
nothing to return to you. If there is apparent some 
fidelity and some patience, it is you alone who effect it. 
If you cease an instant to sustain, or if through an amorous 
feint 3'ou make semblance of leaving me to myself, I cease 
to be strong, to become weaker than any creature. O my 
Lord, if my paltriness shows what I am, your bounties 
show what you are and the extreme dependence I am in 
on you. I am wandering. 

As I became pregnant of my daughter, and it was 
thought I should die, I was for some time spared a little ; 
for I was so extraordinarily ill the doctors had given me 
over. After having passed twelve years and four months 
in the crosses of marriage, as great as could be — except 
poverty, which I have never experienced, at least, that of 
worldly goods, though I have much desired it — you with- 
drew me from them, my God, in the manner I am about 
to tell, to give me heavier ones to bear, and of a nature 


such as I had never experienced; for if, Sir, you pay 
attention to the life you have ordered me to write, you 
will see my crosses have constantly been increasing up to 
the present, as I never emerge from one but to enter on 
another more severe. I will say beforehand that in the 
great troubles I was subjected to, and when I was told I 
was in mortal sin, I had not a person in the world to 
speak to. I would have wished to have had some one as 
witness of my conduct ; but I had none, being without any 
support, either confessor, director, friend, or councillor. I 
had lost all ; and after, my God, you had deprived me of 
all, one after the other, you yourself also withdrew. I 
remained without a creature, and for cro^ii of desolation, 
without you, my God, who alone could sustain mc in so 
strange a state. 

My husband's ailment became every day more obstinate, 
and he himself had a presentiment of death. His mind was 
made up for it, for the languishing life he led became every 
day more burdensome to him. To his other ailments was 
added a disgust for all kinds of nourishment, so great that 
he did not even take the things necessary for life. The 
little he took, there was no one but I had the courage 
to force on him. The doctors advised him to go to the 
country for change of air. The first few days he was there 
he appeared to be better, when suddenly he was seized by 
a colic and continued fever. I was well prepared for any- 
thing it might please Providence to ordain ; for I saw some 
time back he could hardly live longer. His patience 
increased with his illness, and his illness was very crucify- 
ing for me ; yet the good use he made of it softened all 
my troubles. I was extremely pained that my mother-in- 
law kept me away from his bedside as much as she could, 
and influenced him against me. I much feared he might 
die in this feeling, and it afflicted me extremely. I seized 
a moment, when my mother-in-law was not there, and 
approaching his bed, I knelt down and said to him, that if 


I had done anything which had displeased him, I aslccd 
his pardon. I begged him to believe it was not voluntarily, 
lie appeared much touched, and as if he had recovered 
from a profound stupor, he said to mc — what ho had never 
said before — " It is I who ask your pardon. I did not 
deserve you." From this time not only had ho no longer 
a dislike to see me, but ho gave mo advice as to what I 
should do after his death, in order not to be dependent on 
the persons on whom I am at present. He was eight days 
very resigned and patient; although, owing to the gan- 
grene which increased, they cut him up with a lancet. 
I sent to Paris to fetch the best surgeon, but he was dead 
when he arrived. 

It would bo impossible to die with more Christian 
dispositions or courage than he did, after having received 
all the Sacraments in an edifying manner. I was not 
there when he died, for he had made me withdraw, not 
through hostility, but through tenderness, and he was 
more than twenty hours unconscious at the last. I 
bcHevc, my God, that you delayed his death only for 
my sake, for ho was entirely eaten up with gangrene, the 
entrails and stomach quite black, while he yet lived. You 
willed he should die on the eve of Magdalen's Day, in 
order to make me see I must be wholly yours. Every 
year on the Magdalen's Day I used to renew the contract 
I had made with you, my Lord, and I found myself free 
to renew it for good. I was at once enlightened that there 
was much mystery therein. It was the morning of the 
21st of July, IGTH, he died. The evening, when alone in my 
room in full daylight, I perceived a warm shade pass near 
mc. The next day I went into my closet, where was the 
image of my dear and divine Spouse, Jesus Christ. I 
renewed my marriage, and I added to it a vow of 
chastity for a time, with a promise to make it perpetual 
if M. Bcrtot permitted me. After that a great interior joy 
seized me, which was the more novel to me as for a long 

VOL. 1. N 


time I bad been in bitterness. It seemed to mc our Lord 
wisbed to grant me some favour. Immediately I bad a 
very great interior certainty tbat at tbe instant our Lord 
debvercd my busband from purgatory. I bave never since 
doubted it for a moment; altbougb I bave tried to be 
diffident. Some years after, Motber Granger appeared to 
me in a dream, and said to me : " Eest assured tbat our 
Lord, for tbe love be bears you, bas delivered your busband 
from purgatory on tbe Magdalen's Day. He, bowever, 
entered beaven on tbe day of St. James, tbe 25tb, wbieb 
was his fete." Tbis surprised me, but I bave since learned 
tbat tbere are two kinds of purgatory, one wbere tbey 
suffer tbe pain of tbe senses, and tbe otber wbere tbey 
suffer only tbe privation of God; tbat tbere are persons 
wbo pass tbrougb tbe latter witbout passing tbrougb the 
former, otbers wbo pass tbrougb tbe former and go after- 
wards into tbe latter. A great servant of God revealed 
after lier deatb to many of ber intimates tbat sbe was 
tbree days deprived of tbe vision of God witbout any pain 
of tbe senses. 

As soon as I learned my busband bad expired, I said 
to you, " my God, you bave broken my bonds. I will 
offer to you a sacrifice of praise." After tbat I remained 
in a very great silence, exteriorand interior ; silence, bow- 
ever, dry and witbout support. I could neitber weep nor 
speak. My motber-in-law said very beautiful tbings, at 
wbicb every one was edified, and tbey were scandalized at 
my silence, wbicb was put down to want of resignation. 
A monk told me tbat every one admired tbe beautiful 
bebaviour of my motber-in-law; tbat as for me, tbey did 
not bear me say anytbing — tbat I must offer my loss to 
God. But it was impossible for me to say a single word, 
wbatever effort I made. I was, besides, mucb prostrated, 
for altbougb I bad recently given birtb to my daugbter, I 
nevertbeless watcbed my busband witbout leaving bis 
room tbe twenty four uigbts be was ill. I was more 

Chap. XX [T.] AUTOBIOaRAPHY. 179 

than a year in recovering from the fatigue of that. The 
prostration of body and the prostration of my spirit, 
the dryness and stupidity I was in, made mc unable to 
speak. I, however, for some moments was in admiration 
at your goodness, my God, which had set me free 
exactly on the day I had taken you for Spouse. I saw 
that crosses would not be wanting to me since my mother- 
in-law had survived my husband ; and I could not under- 
stand your conduct, my God, which, while setting mc 
free, had yet more strongly bound me by giving me two 
children immediately before the death of my husband. 
This surprised me extremely, my God, that you set me at 
liberty only by making me captive. I have since learned 
that you had by your wisdom provided for me a means of 
being afterwards the plaything of your providence, for had 
I had only my eldest son, I would have placed him at 
college, and myself become a nun at the Benedictines. I 
should thereby have M'ithdrawn myself from your designs 
regarding me. 

I wished to mark the esteem I had for my husband 
jby giving him the most magnificent burial that ever 
took place in the neighbourhood, at my own expense. 
I also paid out of my owti money the pious legacies ho 
wished to make. My mother-in-law strongly opposed 
herself to everything I could do to secure my interests. I 
remained without any help ; for my brother was very far 
from espousing my cause. I had no one from whom I 
bould openly ask counsel. I knew nothing about business ; 
but you, my God, who, independently of my natural 
intellect, have always made me fit for all that it has pleased 
vou, gave me so perfect an intelligence of it that I succeeded. 
[ omitted nothing, and I was astonished that in these 
natters I knew all without having ever learned. I arranged 
ill my papers and settled all my affairs without the help 
)f anybody. I\ry husband had a quantity of papers 
eposited with him. I made an exact inventory for each 

180 MADA^IE GUYON. [Part I. 

person with my own band, and sent them to those to whom 
they belonged. This would have been very difficult for me, 
my God, without your help, because, owing to the long 
time my husband had been ill, everything was in great 
disorder. This got me the reputation of a clever woman, 
as well as another affair which happened. 

A great number of persons, who were mutually litigating 
for more than twenty years, applied to my husband to 
reconcile them. Although it was not the business of a 
gentleman, they entreated him because he had uprightness 
and a good intellect ; so, as there were among those 
persons some he loved, he consented to it. There were 
twenty suits, the one against the other, and there were 
twenty-two persons who were litigating in this way, with- 
out any one being able to end their differences, owing to 
new incidents that arose every day. My husband under- 
took to engage advocates to examine their papers, but 
he died without having done anything. After his death I 
sent to fetch them to give back their papers; but they 
would not receive them, and begged me to reconcile them 
and prevent their ruin. It appeared to me alike ridiculous 
and impossible that I should undertake so serious a 
business, and one so long in dispute. Yet, supported by 
your strength, my God, I followed the movement 3'ou 
gave me to consent. I shut myself up for more than thirty 
days in my closet on this business, without leaving it 
save for Mass and meals. These worthy people all blindly 
signed their compromise without seeing it. They were so 
pleased therewith they could not help publishing it every- 
where. It was you alone, my God, who did these 
things, for since I have no longer had either wealth or 
business matters, I have not even understood them, and at 
present when I hear people talk of them it seems to me it 
is Arabic. 

As soon as I was a widow my friends and people of the 
greatest distinction in the country came to advise me to 


separate at onco from my motbor-in-law ; for, although I 
made no complaint of it, every one knew her temper. I 
answered them I had no ground to complain of her, and 
that I counted on remaining with her if she would allow 
me. It was the view you from the first gave me, my 
God, not to descend from the cross, as you yourself had not 
descended from it. For this reason I resolved not only 
not to leave my mother-in-law, but even not to get rid of 
the maid of whom I have spoken. At the time of your 
greatest rigours towards me, my Love, you prevented 
me from relieving myself of the exterior crosses, which, far 
from diminishing on the death of my husband, increased, 
as I shall tell in its place, after having described the 
interior state of troubles that I had to sustain and pass. 
You will excuse, Sir, if there is so little order in what I 
write. It is impossible for me to do otherwise, since 
I have to speak of so many different things to which I 
cannot givo attention, telling them as they offer them- 

182 MADAME GUYON. [Pakt 1. 


I WAS in so strange a state of deprivation of all support, 
•u'hether exterior or interior, that it would be difficult for 
me to describe it well or to make it fully understood. In 
order to acquit myself the best I can, I am about to 
describe successively the troubles through which during 
seven years I have passed, until it pleased you, my 
God, to deliver me suddenly from them : then I will 
resume the thread of my narrative. I did not suddenly 
lose all support for the interior, but gradually, for during 
the lifetime of Mother Granger I had already suffered 
many interior troubles, but they were only like the fore- 
runners of those I had afterwards to experience. 

After you had wounded me in the profound manner I 
have described, you commenced, my God, to withdraw 
from me, and the pain of your absence was so much the 
harder for me, the sweeter your presence and the more 
powerful your love had been in me. I complained of it to 
Mother Granger, and I thought I no longer loved you. 
One day, when keenly penetrated with this thought and 
this pain, I said to her that I no longer loved you, sole 
object of my love. Looking at me she said, "What! 
you no longer love God ! " This word was more penetrating 
for me than a burning arrow. I felt so terrible a pain and 
such utter confusion I could not answer her, because that 
which was concealed in the central depth made itself at 


the moment so much the more apparent as I had thought 
it lost. 

What persuadcrl me, my God, tliat I had lost your 
love was, that in place of having found new strength in 
this love, so strong and so penetrating, I had hceome more 
weak and more powerless. For formerly I defended 
myself more easily from the leaning towards tho creature ; 
and then, though I had experienced how amiable you are, 
and your love had even banished from my heart all other 
love, and my soul had been so greatly elevated above the 
created, she found herself less capable of defending her- 
self from a certain inclination for the creature : I did 
not then know what it was to lose our own strength to 
enter into the strength of God. I have learned it only by 
a terrible and long experience. I was the more afflicted at 
it, as this defect appeared to mo the most difficult to 
conquer, and that into which I entered with the greatest 
facility, and of which I yet had the most horror ; because 
it fills the heart, and seems to establish its dwelling in the 
same place where you, my God, previously made your 
residence. Although this was not actually so, my pain 
persuaded me of it. The more dangerous this evil appeared 
to me the more familiar it became. It was your leading 
before making me enter into the state of pure abjectness, 
which I shall call the state of death ; since I cannot doubt 
that you made use of it to cause me to die cntu-ely to my- 
self, as you had caused me to die to all the rest. For if 
your conducting of me is attentively considered, it will be 
seen that the exterior deprivations were only the figure of 
the interior, and that you have employed both the one 
and the other with equal force, insensibly augmenting 
them until total death, where it seems you have changed 
the conduct only to make me enter into a new abyss of 
crosses and abjection, in which you have observed an 
order the more admirable as it has almost always been 
accompanied l)y a double abjection : wherein you have 

184 MADAlklE GUYOX. [Pakt I. 

maintained a course of guidance as wise and extraordinary 
as to the eyes of men it has appeared more foolish and 
abject. The more I advance in what I have to write the 
more difficult the enterprise appears to me. 

Your conducting, my God, before making me enter 
into the state of death was a conduct of dying life. Some- 
times hiding and leaving me to myself in a hundred 
weaknesses, sometimes showing yourself with more clear- 
ness and love. The more the soul approached the state of 
death, the more long and tedious became her abandon- 
ments, and her weaknesses greater, and her enjoyments 
shorter, but more pure and more inward, until at last she 
fell into the total privation. It was an overthrow alike of 
the exterior and the interior. It seemed, my Love, your 
exterior providence and your interior guidance had 
challenged each other as to which would the sooner destroy 

In proportion as sensibility had increased your absence 
became more continual ; the abandonments more utter ; 
weaknesses greater ; exterior crosses more bitter ; power- 
lessness to do good more decided ; inclination to all evil 
insurmountable. I had the sentiments of all sins, without, 
however, committing them ; and these sentiments in my 
mind passed for realities, because I felt my heart occupied 
with the creature. At last things came to such a point 
that I lost for ever both every support and every prop, as 
well interior as exterior. Nothing of you, my God, any 
longer remained to me but grief at your loss, which 
appeared to me real. Then I lost this grief in order to 
enter into the cold of death. There remained to me only a 
certainty of my loss, my God, and of never loving you. 

As soon as I saw the happiness of a state, or its beauty, 
or the necessity of a virtue, it seemed to me I incessantly 
fell into the contrary vice, as if that view — which, although 
very short, was always accompanied with love — had been 
given to me only to make me experience its opposite, in a 


manner the more terrible as I bud prcsorvetl more borror 
of it. It was indeed tben, my God, I did the evil tbat I 
hated, and I did not do tbo good tbat I loved, Tbcrc was 
given mo a penetrating view of tbe purity of God, and I 
became still more impure as far as the sentiment ; for as 
to the reality, this state is very purifying, but I was then 
very far from understanding it. It was shown me tbat 
uprightness and simplicity of heart were tbo essential 
virtue, and I did nothing but lie, without wishing it. I 
then thought they were lies, but, in truth, it was only puro 
mistake and hasty words without any reflection. I gave 
way to hastiness. I had never had anything but scorn for 
wealth. I felt attachments to it, and I would have liked 
to have back what I had lost ; so it seemed to me. I 
could not control my words, nor hinder myself from eating 
what was to my taste. All my appetites awoke again, 
with an entire impotence to conquer them. Their revival, 
however, was only in appearance, for, as I have said, as 
soon as I ate things for which I felt so violent a desire, I 
lost the taste for them. 

M. Bertot, without knowing my state, forbade austerities, 
which might have only served me for support. He told me 
I was unworthy of practising them. I then believed, 
my God, that you had made known to him my wicked 
state. I could no longer suffer anything, as it appeared 
to me — although I was quite surrounded by sufferings — 
owing to the extreme repugnance I felt to it. I entered 
into so strange a desolation that it is inexplicable, the 
weight of the anger of God was continual upon me. I used 
to lie on a rug, which was upon the landing, and cry with 
all my strength — when I could not be bfiard — in the senti- 
ment I had of sin, and the inclination I believed I had to 
commit it, " Damn me, that I may not sin ! You send 
others to hell through justice, give it to me through mercy." 
It seemed to me I would gladly cast myself into it in the 
apprehension I had of sin. 

186 MADAl\rE GUYON. [Vaut I. 

M. Bertot, on the reports made to bim that I practised 
great austerities — for people imagined it, owing to the 
extreme trouble I was in, which made me unrecognizable 
— though he had forbidden them to me, thought that I 
followed my own course. In this deplorable state, I could 
not tell him anything of myself, God not permitting it ; for 
although I had such keen pains from sin, when I wished 
to write or speak of them, I found nothing, and I was 
quite stupid. Even when I wished to confess, I could not 
say anything, except that I had a sensibility for the 
creature. This sensibility was such that, during the 
whole time it lasted, it never caused me any emotion or 
temptation in the flesh. M. Bertot gave mo up, and sent 
me word I should take another director. I no longer 
doubted God had made known to him my wicked state, 
and that this abandonment was the surest mark of my 

I continued so afflicted, I thought I should die of grief. 
I was pregnant of my daughter. I have often been 
astonished that I was not confined prematurely. My 
sobs were so violent I was on the point of suffocating. I 
should have been consoled at M. Bertot's abandonment if 
it was not that I regarded it as the visible mark of God's 
abandonment. My pain was so keen at the commencement 
I could hardly eat. People did not understand what I 
lived on, and I don't understand it myself. I was so weak 
that in my confinement I was ill from Monday midday up 
to Tuesday midnight. The doctors found no strength in 
me, and said I should die of pure weakness without 
delivery. Fear lest the child should be unbaptised made 
me make a vow to the Holy Virgin, after which I was 
happily delivered, though I had been so miserable and 
at the point of death. I had no unwillingness to die, 
because I thought my death would end my interior ills. 

It was as much as I could do at this time to drag my 
body, so prostrated was I with languor, for I suffered then 


the privation of all blessings, and the accumulation of all 
evils, without anything whatsoever in heaven or on earth 
giving mc any consolation. All was hostile to me, all 
crucilicd mc. Besides, I had to be the whole day under a 
perpetual opposition, bearing within inconceivable torments. 
If I could have been alone, my pain would have been mucli 
rcheved, but I had only the night to mourn and weep my 
grief. As I dwelt alone in an isolated apartment, I gave 
free course to my tears, and sometimes I said with the 
prophet, ** I wash my bed with my tears, and my groanings 
are like the sound of great waters." Nothing whatever 
was given me to relieve me, for prayer was a torture. I 
could not read anything. If I could force myself to do it, 
I knew not what I was reading, and understood nothing 
whatever. I recommenced, I know not how often, my 
reading, and I understood less the last time than the first ; 
all I retained was a horrible disgust for it. Sermons and 
all pious exercises had the same effect on me. My 
imagination was in a frightful irregularity, and gave me 
no rest. I could not speak of 3'ou, my God, for I 
l)ecame quite stupid, nor even take in what others said 
when I heard them speaking. 

In place of that peace of paradise in which my soul had 
been, as it were, confirmed and established, there was only 
a trouble of hell. I could sleep but a short time con- 
tinuously ; my trouble woke me up, as if from my bed I 
was bound to enter hell : for that inclination to be 
damned rather than to sin, which was still a good thing, 
was taken from me. I fell into a greater weakness. The 
fear of death and of hell seized me. I sought my first 
disposition, and I did not find it ; on the contrary, it 
seemed that sin was more familiar to me, that I would 
have liked to commit it. I found myself hard towards 
God, insensible to his bounties. There was not shown 
mc any good that I had done in all my life. The good 
appeared to me evil, and what is frightful is that this state 

188 MADAME GUYON. [Pakt I. 

appeared to me bound to endure eternally, while I did not 
believe it to be a state, but a true fall ; for if I could have 
believed it had been a state, or that it had been necessary, 
or agreeable to God, I should not have had any pain from 
it. From that I entered into insensibility, which appeared 
to me the consummation of my woes ; it was also the last 
dying state. But before speaking of it I must continue my 
narrative. I will ask you to consider what it means to 
bear this state seven years, and especially five years with- 
out an instant of consolation, and accompanied with all the 
crosses I have described and those I am about to tell. 



As soon as I was a widow my crosses, which one wouhl 
have thought should have diminished, increased. That 
domestic, whom I have spoken of, who ought to have been 
more gentle because she depended on me, became more 
violent. She had accumulated a great deal at the house, 
and I secured her a pension for the rest of her life, after 
the death of my husband, in consequence of the services 
she had rendered him. All this seemed bound to soften 
her ; but quite the contrary happened. She was puffed up 
with vanity. The necessity of constantly watching an 
invalid had led her on to drink pure wine to keep up her 
strength ; now as she became aged and feeble, the least 
thing went to her head. That became a habit with her. 
I endeavoured to conceal this defect, but it became so 
strong it was impossible to put up with her. I spoke of 
it to her confessor, in order he might endeavour judiciously 
to correct it ; but in place of profiting by the advice of her 
director, she became furious, and there was no violence she 
did not exhibit towards me. My mother-in-law, who up to 
that had had great troublf to endure this defect in the 
woman, and who had even spoken to me of it, joined her 
in blaming me and excusing her. It was, who would cause 
me the most trouble. If company came, she cried with all 
her strength, I had dishonoured her ; that I had driven her 
to despair ; that I was damning myself, and would be the 

190 MADAME GUYON. [Pakt I. 

cause of her damnation. You gave me, my God, despite 
the deplorable state I was interiorly in, a boundless 
patience towards her. I answered all her furies only with 
charity and gentleness, giving her even every mark of my 
affection. If any other maid came to serve me, she sent 
her away with fury, and reproached me that I hated her 
because she had faithfully served my husband : so that I 
had to make up my mind to be my own servant when it 
did not please her to come ; and when she came, it was to 
cry and scold. These ways of acting, and many others, 
which it would be too long to tell, lasted up to a year 
before my departure. I had, besides, very severe and very 
frequent illnesses ; and when I was ill this woman was in 
despair. I have always, therefore, thought you had caused 
all this only for me, my Lord ; for without a special 
permission she was not capable of such strange conduct. 
She did not even recognize faults so glaring, always be- 
lieving she was in the right. All the persons you have 
used to make me suffer thought they did you service. 

I went to Paris expressly to see M. Bertot. The urgent 
prayers I had caused to be made to him to direct me, joined 
to the death of my husband, at which he thought I should 
be very much afflicted, obliged him to conduct me anew. 
But it was very little use to me ; for besides that I could 
not tell him anything of myself, or make myself known to 
him, because every idea was taken from me, even that of 
my wretchedness, when I spoke to him, your providence, 
my God, permitted that when I was eager to see him 
from the extreme need I thought I had of him, it was then 
that I could not see him. I went twelve or fifteen times to 
see him without being able to speak to him. In the space 
of two months I spoke to him only twice, and then for a 
short time, of what appeared to me most essential. I told 
him the need I had of an ecclesiastic to educate my son, 
and to remove his bad habits and the unfavourable 
impressions he had been inspired with against me. These 


readied such ca point that when he spoke of mo he never 
called mo " my mother," but, " She has said ; " " She has 
done." M. Bcrtot found me a priest, who was a very good 
man, and who had been very well recommended to him. 
I went to make a retreat with M. Bertot and Madame 

do C at P . God permitted that at the most ho 

spoke to me less than ten minutes. "When he saw I said 
nothing to him, and knew not what to say — and, besides, I 
never told him of the graces our Lord had bestowed on mc 
(not through a desire of concealing them, but because you 
did not permit it, my God) — he spoke to the souls that 
lie thought more advanced in grace, and left me as a person 
with whom he had almost nothing to do. You concealed 
from him so well, my God, the state of my soul, in order 
to make me suffer, that he wished to put mc back into the 
considerations, thinking that I did not use prayer, and that 
^Mother Granger was mistaken when she told him that I 
did. Ho even thought she had not had the gift of discern- 
ment, as he let me know. I did what I could to obey him, 
but it was entirely impossible for mc. I was vexed with 
myself for it, because I rather believed M. Bertot than all 
my experiences. During my whole retreat, whatever efforts 
I made, not a thought came to my mind. My inclina- 
tion, which I discerned only through the resistance I 
opposed to it, was to remain in silence and nakedness ; and 
I thought I was obedient in so remaining. This made me 
still more believe I was fallen from my grace. I kept 
myself in my nothingness, content with my low degi'ce of 
prayer, without envying that of others, of which I deemed 
myself unworthy. I, however, would have desired to do 
your will, my God, and to advance in order to please 
you, but I utterly despaired it could ever be ; and as I did 
not doubt it was through my fault I hcA lost my gift of 
prayer, I was content to remain in my lowness. I was yet, 
nevertheless, almost continually in prayer during tliia 
retreat ; but 1 did not know it, and nothing was said to 

192 MADAME GUYON. [Paut I. 

inc that could lead me to think I was so : on the contrary, 
the lady who had led me into the retreat said to me that 
I appeared not so much defective as little advanced ; and 
as she was reading a collection of the letters of M. Bertot, 
I recognized one he had formerly written to me on my 
state. I told her it was to me, hut she would not helieve 
me, asserting the contrary. The most spiritual writings 
were concealed from me, and I was told to apply myself to 
meditation ; but it was impossible for me. my God, how 
admirable was your providence to sink me in every way. 
"Without this procedure I should still have subsisted in 

In the place where I dwelt there was a person whose 
doctrine was suspected of [Jansenism ?] He possessed a 
rank in the Church which obliged me to show a deference 
to him. As he learned at once the opposition I had for all 
persons suspected, and he was satisfied I had some credit 
in the place, he used all his efforts to w^in me over to his 
opinions. I spoke to him with so much force that he could 
give me no answer. This only increased the desire he had 
of winning me, and forming friendship with me. For two 
3'ears and a half he continued to urge me. As he had a 
very amiable temper, much cleverness, and was very civil, 
I had no distrust of him, and because I felt a great interior 
strength, and that while speaking to him God was very 
present to me, I thought it was an infallible mark God 
approved my seeing him. During the two and a half 
years I was obliged to see him, I felt very great troubles, 
for, on the one hand, I was led, as it were, in spite of 
myself, to see him and to speak to him ; and on the other, 
there were many things in him I could not approve, and 
for which I felt an extreme repugnance. God appeared 
irritated with me because I often, through faithlessness, 
followed the natural inclination I had to converse with him, 
although ordinarily it was only on good things, or at most, 
indifferent. But as I felt that my natural disposition led to 

Chap. XXIV.] AUTOBIOGRAniY. 193 

these conversations, I saw the imperfection there was in 
followin<]j it. I often kept away from him, but he came to 
ask me why I was no longer visible, and so managed with his 
attentions to my sit-k husband, that I could not avoid his 
conversations. I thought the shortest way was to break 
once for all, but M. Bcrtot would not permit mo until after 
the death of my husband ; then, seeing at last the hostility 
he had to the spiritual life, and that I could not gain any- 
thing over his mind, I broke the connection I had with 
him. "When he saw he could not renew it, he caused mo 
strange persecutions, stirring up all those of his party. 
These persons had at that time among them a method 
such, that in a very short time they knew those who were 
on their side, and those who were opposed to them. They 
sent circular letters to the nearest, which they passed on, 
the one to the other, so that in a very short time these 
persons decried me everywhere in the strangest manner. 
^My name was known to them, but not the person. They 
loudly condemned my piety. They circulated secret reports 
to discredit me in all the places they knew I was held in 
repute. However, the J03' I had at seeing myself freed 
from this connection was so great that I little felt what 
ho could do to me. I enjoyed so greatly my new liberty 
that my trouble was counted for almost nothing. I said 
to myself, "I will never connect myself with any one, and 
I will maintain such a reserve I shall never more be at the 
trouble of breaking." Fool that I was ! I did not know 
that he who had freed me could alone hinder me from 
connecting myself. I still thought to be able to defend 
and guard myself, and my dismal experience bad not yet 
perfectly convinced me of my powerlessness ; for I fell 
again into a new connection, which lasted six months, but 
it did not cause me so much trouble, because this person 
was more devoted to God. The person with whom I had 
broken decried mc then everywhere, which slightly injured 
my reputation. It was, my God, the thing I most held 

VOL. I. o 

19 1 MADAME GUYOX. [Part I. 

to, and which cost me most to lose iu the aeqiiel. As I 
knew that people spoke of me, I watched myself with all 
my strength ; but the blow was given, it had to take its 

What I suffered was terrible, for the estrangement of my 
God was still greater. All creatures joined with you, my 
God, to make me suffer ; and I had such an impression it 
seemed to me they were avenging the outrages I had done 
to their Creator. I had neither relative, friend, nor con- 
fidante. It appeared to me every one was ashamed of me. 
I further bore a state of inexplicable humiliation ; for the 
powerlessness in which I was of performing exterior acts of 
charity that I used to do, such as going to the holy Sacra- 
ment, burying the dead, remaining a long time at church, 
served as pretext to that person to condemn me. When 
he saw I no longer performed all these practices, he pro- 
claimed it was through his means I had done them, and 
when I no longer saw him I had given up everything. He 
wished to attribute to himself the merit of what you made 
me do, my God, by your grace alone. He went so far as 
l)ublicly to preach of me as a person, who, after being an 
example for a town, had become its scandal. He, many 
times, preached hurtful things ; and although I was present 
at his sermons, which were such as to overwhelm me with 
confusion (for they scandalized all who heard them), I 
could not feel pained : on the contrary, I rejoiced at them, 
for in my central depth I bore a condemnation against 
myself that I cannot express, and it appeared to me that 
this person, by the public confusion he procured me, re- 
paired the faults and tlie infidelities I had committed. It 
seemed to me I deserved infinitely more, and if all men 
had known me, they would have trampled me underfoot. 
My reputation then suffered more and more by means of 
this person, and I inwardly suffered a greater confusion 
than if I had committed all possible evils. It was, who 
would cause me most insults. He turned against me all 

Cum: XXIV.| AUTOniOGRArnY. 195 

tliose who passed for being pious, after wliicli he said, 
" You see, she has no one for licr. So and so, wlio arc 
saints, are all against her." I thought they were right in 
l)ohaving thus. I did nothing ■whatever either to regain 
their esteem, or to show I was troubled at having lost it. 
On tlio contrary, I kept myself aloof and confused as a 
criminal who dares not lift his eyes. I was sunk before 
you, my God, in the deepest depth of abjcctness. I re- 
garded the virtue of others with respect, and saw the world 
without defect, and myself without any virtue. Cut al- 
though I thought myself so remote from the good I saw in 
others, I yet dared not, nor even could, desire their state. 
I deemed myself unworthy of all the graces of God, which I 
believed I had lost for ever through my unfaithfulness. 
I was content, my God, to see you served by others, 
being unable to do it myself. I entertained respect for all 
tliose who served you, and beside them I felt myself smaller 
than anything. "When through chance any one praised me, 
I felt a weight that plunged me back into my nothingness, 
and I said to myself, " They do not know my abjcctness," 
and I blushed deeply. I sometimes used to say, " Oh, if 
pLople could understand from whence I am fallen!" "When 
they blamed me I saw they were right. Nature, indeed, 
would have liked sometimes to have escaped such strange 
alijection, but there was no means, and if I endeavoured 
to exhibit an exterior righteousness by the practice of 
some good, my heart secretly gave the lie to my action ; 
I saw it was hypocrisy to appear what I was not; and 
you, my God, did not permit it to succeed. Oh, how 
beautiful are the crosses of i)rovidence ! All others arc not 
crosses. That which I then bore from the weight of my 
abji'ctness, was far more terrible to me than all otlicrs. If 
1 had not believed myself guilty, I would have taken 
credit for my pains, but I felt so filthy I was a horror 
to myself. 

I was often very ill, and in danger of death. I knew not 

196 MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 

what to do to prepare for death. I did not even see 'what 
I could do, and I let mj-self be devoured by grief. I hardly 
dared show myself, owing to my trouble. It seemed to me 
every one must know my abjectness, and the state from 
which I believed I had fallen. Even the pleasure of drink- 
ing my confusion was taken from me ; there remained to me 
only the confusion itself, which I could no longer bear : for 
I did not feel, in myself, the least inclination to good, but, 
on the contrary, a tendency to every evil, and this involun- 
tary tendency, without any effect, appeared to me a crime. 
God so permitted it. I deemed myself more filthy and 
ugly than the Devil, and yet at confession I knew not what 
to tell, except certain infidelities I committed, and that I 
felt natural sensibilities. For, as I have said, I did nothing 
marked. It was an experience of abjectness, and an in- 
conceivable sentiment of my paltriness, which made me 
treat the sentiments of the heart as sins. I did not believe 
there was in the world a more wicked person than myself, 
and I suffered such confusion, I dared not show myself. 
People of piety, who had known me, wrote to me as if they 
had believed what those persons said, and I did not justify 
myself, though I was innocent of what they accused me. 
One day that I was more desolate than usual, and there 
was nothing on earth capable of consoling me — being, as it 
were, beside myself from the excess of the trouble, which 
deprived me of food and sleep — I opened the New Testament 
without thinking what I was doing. I found these words: 
" Virtue is made perfect in weakness ; My grace is sufficient 
for thee." This consoled me for some moments, but the 
consolation passed away in an instant, and served only to 
render the pain more severe, for there remained to me 
neither idea nor trace of these things. 



You took from inc, my God, Kuddonlj', all the sensibility 
I had for the creature, and you took it from mo in an in- 
stant, as when one puts off a dress ; so that from this time 
I have never had it for any one whatever. Although you 
bad shown mc this grace (for which I could not sufiiciently 
mark my gratitude), I was 5'et thereby neither more re- 
assured, nor more bapp}', nor less confused. You were so 
far from me, my God, and you appeared so angry, that 
there remained to me only the grief of having lost you, 
through my fault. The loss of my reputation, by means 
of the party of that person, increased each day, and became 
more sensible to my min 1 and to my heart, although it 
was not permitted me to justify myself, or complain. As 
I became still more powerless for all sorts of external works, 
and I could neither go to see the poor, nor remain at church, 
nor use praj'cr ; and the more cold towards God, the more 
sensible I was to my ills — all this destroyed mo more in 
my own eyes, and in the eyes of others. There were, how- 
ever, suitors of high position, who sought me in marriage, 
persons who, according to ordinary rules, ought not to 
think of mc. They presented themselves even at the height 
of my exterior and interior desolation, and it appeared 
to mo it was a means of saving myself from the vexation 
I was exposed to. But it seemed to me then, in spite of all 
my troubles, that had a king presented himself, I would 

198 MADAIilE GUYON. [Part I. 

have gladly refused liim, to make you kuo^Y, my God, 
that, -tt-itli all my paltriness, I wished to he yours alone, and 
that if you did not want me, I should at least have the con- 
solation of having been faithful to you in everything which 
depended on me. For as to the state I bore, it in no way 
depended on me, and if I could have got rid of it, I would 
have done so, at least during some time ; since afterwards 
I endured it sometimes through resignation, at other times 
from despair of ever emerging from it — despair caused by 
the impotence in which I found myself. I never spoke of 
being asked in marriage, nor of the persons who asked me, 
although I well knew my mother-in-law used to say that 
there were no proposals, and that if I did not marry it was 
because I did not get the chance. It was enough for me, 
my God, that you knew what I sacrificed for you, with- 
out telling it ; especially one, whose high birth, joined to 
all external qualities, might have tempted my vanity, and 
my inclination. Yet, my God, the more cruel you were 
to me, the more eager was I to make sacrifices to you. If 
in the sacrifices, and the terrible crosses, in which I was 
plunged, both from without and within, I could have hoped, 
my Lord, to be pleasing to you, the hell I then endured 
would have been changed into paradise ; but, alas ! I was 
far from presuming, or hoping it. It seemed to me that 
a sea of affliction would be followed only by an eternal 
torment, my God. I had even to submit to have lost you 
for ever — you, who alone could end my woes, which all 
creatures could only render more gnawing. I dared not 
desire to enjoy you, my God, but I desired only not to 
offend you. 

I was five or six weeks at the point of death. I often 
thought I should die from weakness, caused by a continual 
diarrhcea, which had reduced me to such a state that I 
could not endure any nourishment. A spoonful of broth 
threw me into a faint ; my voice was so weak that, how- 
ever near my mouth the ear was placed, they could not 

Cn\r. XXV.] AUTOBIOGlUrilY. 199 

(listiiiguisli my words. My dispositions wcro, that, in tho 
extreme ^Yrctcllednc8s to which I was reduced, I found 
nothing that could assure my salvation ; on the contrary, 
my loss appeared inevitable. Yet I could not he unwilling 
to die, as I had a strong impression the longer I lived, the 
more I should sin, and that I could no longer avoid sin ; 
that I would live only to commit it. Hell appeared to mo 
more agreeable, and in my grief I cried out, " llell, and not 
sin ! " My other disposition was that, far from seeing 
any good in me, I saw only evil. All tho good you had 
caused me to do in my life, my God, was shown to mo 
as evil. All appeared to mo full of defects ; my charities, 
my alms, my prayers, my penances, all rose up against 
me, and appeared to me objects of condemnation. I found 
on your side, my God, on my own, on that of all 
creatures, a general condemnation. My conscience was a 
witness I could not appease, and what would appear most 
strange, is, that the sins of my youth did not then cause 
me any pain. It was not they bore witness against me ; it 
was a universal witness in all the good I had done, and in 
all the sentiments of evil ; yet although the condemnation 
was so complete, I did not see anything in particular 
which I could mention, or of which I could accuse myself. 
As a consequence, I did not find any remedy for my ills in 
confession, and though I reiterated it according to my 
strength, I could tell nothing except of having been 
unfaithful to you, my God. "What I saw was inex- 
plicable to me, and though I should have been able to 
explain it, my confessor would have understood nothing. 
Ho would have regarded as very great good and eminent 
virtue what your pure e3'e3 rejected as unfaithfulness. 
It was indeed then, most amiable Judge, while yet 
most rigorous — it was indeed then I understood what you 
say, that you will judge our righteousness. It was not 
my unrighteousnesses you judged, since they did not even 
appear in this judgment ; it was all rigjiteousncsses, but 

200 MADAME GUYON. [Pakt I. 

righteousnesses abominable in your eyes, as it appeared to 
me. Ah ! how pure you are ! how chaste you are ! Who 
will understand it ? It was indeed then I turned my eyes 
on all sides to see whence help should come to me ; but my 
help could only come from him who has made the heaven 
and the earth. When I saw there was no salvation for me 
in myself, I entered into a secret complaisance at not 
seeing in mj-self any good, on which to rest and assure my 
salvation. The nearer my ruin appeared, the more I 
found in God himself — all irritated as he appeared to me 
— something to increase my confidence. It seemed to me 
that I had in Jesus Christ all that was wanting to me in 
myself. I was, divine Jesus, that lost sheep of the 
House of Israel that you were come to save. You were 
truly the Saviour of her who could find no salvation out of 
you. men, strong and holy, find salvation as much 
as you please in what you have done, that is holy and 
glorious for God ; as for me, I make my boast only in my 
weaknesses, since they have earned for mo such a Saviour. 
I rejoiced that this body of sin was soon to be decayed 
and destroyed. The return of my health brought no 
change in my trouble or my abjectness ; but as I did not 
find anything specially marked, I begged the worthy priest 
who hved in our house to notice my defects and inform 
me of them. He did it with much charity, but this served 
only to increase my grief; for besides seeing myself utterly 
powerless to get rid of them, what he said was so in- 
supportable to me that I did violence to myself not to 
let it be seen, and I held my head in the severity of my 
pain. At other times, as if I had been mad, I pressed it 
against the wall, and I told him not to say anything more ; 
for I was distracted, and fell, as it were, into despair, owing 
to my impotence. He said he would no longer tell them 
to me ; but it was not this I wished. He was not in a state 
to understand my trouble. I so despised and even hated 
myself that all the torments I suffered from the loss of 


God, of creatures ami of myself, seemed to mo sweet. I 
saw others honour God in their way ; I saw them Hko 
angels and myself like a devil. The Communion, whicli I 
had once so much desired, hecamc for mc a new subject of 
apprehension and of grief; when through obedience I was 
obliged to approach it, it all made mo shudder. I would 
not have wished, my Saviour, to abuse your body, and 
I was not allowed to abstain, though I believed I was 
really abusing it; I no longer had anything but disgust 
for a food which had been my dearest delight. This state 
lasted with mo five years with the same severity, accom- 
panied by continual crosses, as I have mentioned, and 
very frequent illness. There were besides that two years 
when my ills were not so extreme, though great. All theso 
ills, joined to the loss of my reputation, which I believed 
greater than it was — all this, I say, was sometimes so 
trying, with the inability to cat, that I knew not how I 
could live. In four days I did not cat enough for a single 
moderate meal. I was obliged to take to bed from puro 
weakness ; my body could no longer bear so rude a burden. 
I would have liked to have been allowed to tell my sins to 
all the world. If I had believed, known, or heard, that it 
was a state, I should have been too happy ; but I saw my 
pain as sin. Spiritual books, when I forced myself to read 
them, increased my trouble, for I did not see in myself 
those degrees which they mention. I did not even under- 
stand them, and when they spoke of the troubles of certain 
states, I was far from applying them to myself; I said, 
** These persons feel the pains that God operates, and as 
for me, I commit sin, and feel only my wicked state." 
What consoled mo for some moments without consoling 
me, was, that you were not thereby less great, my God. I 
would have liked to separate the sin from the confusion of 
sin, and, provided I had not offended you, all would have 
been easy for mc. 

Here is a little sketch of my last wretchedness, which I 

202 MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 

am very pleased to make known to you, because I have 
therein committed many infidelities at the commencement, 
having 5'ielded to the selfhood, to vain complaisance, long 
conversations really useless, although self-love and nature 
made them look in a way necessary ; but at the end, I 
would not have endured a word too human, nor the least 
thing. You purified in me, my God, and my Divine Love, 
the real evil through an apparent evil. Could I not indeed 
sing with the Church, " Oh, happy guilt, which has earned 
for me such a Eedeemer ! " 




The first monk whom you had used, my God, to draw 
me to you, to whom I used to write at his owu request, in 
the very depth of my desolation, wrote to me to cease 
writing to him ; that he had nothing but repugnance for 
everything that came from me ; that I greatly displeased 
you. O my God, you doubtless inspired him to write thus 
to me, in order that my desolation might be complete, and 
no hope might remain for me. A Jesuit Father, who had 
much esteemed me, wrote me something similar. I had 
not the least thought of justifying myself. I thanked them 
for their charity, and recommended myself to their prayers. 
I was at this time so indifferent to being universally con- 
demned, and by the greatest saints, that I had no pain at 
it ; for I gradually ceased to feel the loss of my reputa- 
tion. Towards the end I would have liked everybody to 
have known me as I knew myself. The pain of displeasing 
you, my God, without being able to remedy it, was too 
keen for me to feel the other crosses, although the domestic 
ones became daily more severe. The recollection of the 
time I had lost in talking and writing ; infidelities I had 
committed ; the strong impulse I felt in me to every kind 
of defect, was a far more sensible pain. 

From the commencement you had accustomed me to 
dryness and privation. I even preferred it to abundance, 
because I knew it made me seek you above everything. I 

201 MADAME GUYOX. Taut I. 

bad even from the very commencement an instinct in my 
inmost depth to pass beyond everytbing, and to leave the 
gifts in order to run to the Giver ; but at this time tbere 
M'as no longer question of tbat, nor even of losing you, for 
I no more "wished to possess you in myself, having abused 
you. I could not accustom myself to sin ; for at this time 
I bad the mind and senses so struck through your per- 
mission, who wished to destroy me without mercy, that the 
further I advanced, the more everything appeared sin to 
me : even the crosses appeared to me no longer crosses, 
but real faults. I thought I brought them on myself 
through imprudences. I was like those who, looking 
through a coloured glass, see everything the same colour 
as it. My illnesses became for me times of the greatest 
impotence and desolation. If I could have performed some 
exterior good, or some penances, this would have assured 
me ; but besides that I had been forbidden, I feared them 
so much, and found such weakness in myself, that it seemed 
to me it was impossible to do them. I looked on them 
with horror, and in this matter I found myself as weak as 
I had been strong. It has been the same on every subject. 
It seems to me I omit many things, both the pro- 
vidences of God towards me and the rough paths he made 
me traverse ; but as I have only a general view, I leave 
them in the knowledge of God alone. Afterwards, the 
abandonment of my director, and the coolness I remarked 
in persons he conducted, no longer caused me pain, owing 
to the humiliation I felt within. My brother also joined 
himself to those who decried me, although he would not pre- 
viously have looked at them. I believe, my Lord, it was you 
alone who brought things to this state ; for he has virtue, 
and he surely believed he was doing good in behaving so. 
I was compelled by some business to go into a town where 
there are near relatives of my mother-in-law. When I had 
been there previously there was no civility I had not 
received from them, each vying with the other to entertain 

CiiAr. XXVI.] AUTOIilOGRArilY. 206 

me. They treated me now with the utmost scorn, sayinf; 
they thereby avenged the suffering I caused their relative. 
When I saw the thing went so far, and that, despite my 
efforts, I had not been able to succeed in pleasing her, I 
resolved to have an expLanation with her. I told her every 
one said I ill-treated her and made her suffer, although 1 
laboured for nothing else but to give her marks of my 
respect ; that if it was so I begged her to consent to my 
withdrawing, as I had no intention of living with her in 
order to cause her trouble ; that I lived there only to please 
her ; that having the aversion she knew I had for the place 
where I dwelt, she could well believe I remained there only 
out of regard for her ; that if I was burdensome to her I 
would withdraw. She answered me very coldly : I might 
do what I pleased ; that she had not spoken of it ; but that 
she was resolved to keep house separately. This was to give 
me my dismissal. I thought of taking measures secretly 
to withdraw. As since my widowhood I paid no visits but 
those of pure necessity or charity, there were only too 
many dissatisfied persons who formed a party against me 
with her. I stood alone, for you did not then permit me, 
my God, to open myself to any one ; and you exacted of 
me an inviolable secrecy on all my troubles, exterior and 
interior. There is not anything which costs so much, nor 
which so effectually kills nature ; it dies at finding neither 
support nor consolation. As I could have no help from 
M. Bertot, who was very far away from Paris — who even 
would not have given it to me had he been nearer, or 
would not have given it in time, I knew not what to do. 
In short, I saw myself obliged to turn out in the depth of 
winter with the children and my daughter's nurse, without 
knowing what would become of us. It was Advent. There 
was no house vacant in the town. The Benedictines offered 
me an apartment with them. I suffered inconceivable 
torture. On the one hand, I feared by withdrawing to 
withdraw from the cross ; on the other, it did not stem 

206 MADAME GUYON. [Paht 1. 

right to remain with a person to crucif}' her, when I hail no 
other desire than to please her. Yet, however careful I was, 
everything turned out equally ill. She complained I did 
things without consulting her ; and when I consulted her, 
she would not answer me. When I asked her advice, she 
said I could do nothing myself ; that at her age she was 
ohliged to have the charge of everything. If I endeavoured 
to forestall her inclinations, doing things as I helieved she 
would have herself advised, she told me J. despised her ; 
that young persons had nothing hut contempt for the aged; 
that they thought they knew everything hettcr. "When I 
went into the country for rest, she complained of it, saying 
I left her alone. If I begged her to come there, she would 
not. If I said I did not venture to ask her to come for fear 
of inconveniencing her and making her sleep away from 
home, she complained I did not wish her to come, and I 
went there only to escape from her. When I learned she 
was vexed at my being in the country, I returned to the 
town, and she could not endure me nor speak to me. None 
the less I conversed with her ; for at that time, my God, 
you gave me the grace of going counter to all my dislikes, 
though I did not know it. I conversed with her without 
appearing to see how she behaved. She did not answer 
me, and turned to the other side. I often sent her my 
carriage, and begged her to come and pass a day in the 
country ; that it would amuse without inconveniencing her, 
since, being so near, she could return in the evening. She 
sent it back empty without an answer ; and if I was some 
days without sending it to her, there were complaints. In 
short, all I did to please her, embittered her, God so 
permitting it. She had a very good heart, but her temper 
was perhaps there in spite of her, and I nevertheless have 
much obligation to her. 

My aflliction was very great, for I felt almost always 
repugnance to do what I did, and as I did it by conquering 
myself, the contrariety I felt appeared to me a sin. On 


Christmas Day, being with her, I said with much afTuction : 
*' My motlicr, the King of Peace has been born this day to 
bring it to us. I ask of you peace in his name." I bchevc 
this touched her, though she did not let it appear. The 
ecclesiastic I had in the house, far from supporting and 
consoling me, served only to weaken and alllict me more, 
showing me I ought not to put up with certain things ; and 
when in compliance I wished to introduce some order, as 
well in what concerned my mother-in-law as my domestics, 
besides being unsuccessful, it augmented my crosses and 
my troubles. For it is a strange thing that, no longer 
having a husband, when I ought to be mistress, I yet was 
unable to dismiss a servant, however faulty he might bo. 
As soon as any one ought to go she took his part, and all 
her friends mixed themselves up in it. 

"When I was ready to leave, one of the friends of my 
mother-in-law (a good man who has always esteemed me, 
without daring to let it appear to her), having learned of 
it, w^as very apprehensive I might quit the town, for 
some of my alms passed through his hands. lie thought 
it would be a great injury to the neighbourhood. lie 
resolved to speak to my mother-in-law with the greatest 
caution he could, for ho knew her. After he had spoken 
to her, she said that she would not turn me out of her 
house, but if I left it, she would oiler no obstacle. He 
came to see me then, and begged me to go and make excuses 
to her, to satisfy her. I told him that I would do it a 
hundred times for one, although I knew not about what ; 
that I was continually making them to her for whatever I 
saw vexed her ; but that this was not the question, that I 
made no complaint against her, and that I was content to 
remain with her as long as it should please her ; but that, 
being in her house, it was not right I should remain there 
to annoy her, that it was right I should secure her ease. I 
nevertheless went with him into my mother-in-law's room. 
I said to her that I asked her pardon, if I had displeased 

20S JIADAME GUYON. [Pakt 1. 

her in anything, that it had never bccu my intention ; that 
I begged her to tell me, in the presence of this gentleman, 
who was her friend, in what I might have caused her vexa- 
tion, and if I had ever done anything designedly to offend 
her. You permitted, my God, that she herself declared 
the truth in the presence of this man. She said she was 
not a person to allow herself to be offended, she would not 
have put up with it; that she had no other complaint 
against me except that I did not love her, and that I would 
have wished her dead. I answered her, these thoughts 
were very far from my sentiments, and that, instead of ever 
having this thought, I would -have wished with all my 
heart to have prolonged her life by my attentions to her ; 
that my affection was entire, but that she never would 
believe it, whatever proof I tried to give her, as long as 
she listened to persons who spoke to her to my disadvan- 
tage ; that she even had a servant who, far from showing 
respect to me, ill-treated me to such a degree that she 
would push me when she wished to pass — she had even 
done it in church, making me get out of her way with as 
much violence as scorn, and many times in the room even 
insulting me with words ; that I had never complained of 
her, but that I was glad to let her know it, because a spirit 
of that stamp might give her trouble some day, and put 
into her mind things that would torment her. 

She took the part of her servant ; yet we kissed each 
other, and it rested there. But you, my God, who were 
the more watchful over me the more you appeared to 
forget me, permitted that, after I had gone to the country, 
this maid, having no longer me to vent her vexation on, 
behaved so ill to her mistress that she was obliged to dis- 
miss her before my return. I must mention here that the 
behaviour of my mother-in-law was rather God's conduct- 
ing of me than a defect on her part ; for she had virtue 
and intelligence, and, putting aside certain failings, which 
people who do not use prayer keep ignorant of, she had 


good qualities. Perhaps I have caiisuil her crosses Nvitliout 
intending it. She has caused them to me, perhaps, Nvithuut 
knowing it, for the disHkc she had for my manners might 
have been a severe cross to her. I hope this will not be 
seen by any one who might be scandalized at it, and who 
is not in a state to see things in God. One of the penitents 
of that person whom I have mentioned, who had caused 
mo trouble because I had broken with him, was, owing to 
her husband's affairs, obliged to quit the country. That 
person was himself accused of the very same things of 
which he had accused me, and of others much more serious, 
and with much greater notoriety. You gave me the grace, 

my God, although I knew the things he was accused of, 
never to speak of them, and when people spoke to me 

1 defended him ; and you so well restrained my heart that 
it never gave way to the vain joy of seeing him over- 
whelmed with the ill he had procured for me. And al- 
though I knew my mother-in-law was acquainted with it 
all, I never spoke to her on the subject, for fear of pleasing 
nature and nourishing its life ; and when she spoke to me 
of it and of the confusion he had occasioned in another 
family, I did not seize the opportunity to show her the 
wrong he had done me. I simply answered her a few 
words without blaming him ; for it is true, my God, that 
you have willed such a silence about my crosses for more 
than sixteen years, that it would be difficult to find any- 
thing more complete. 

VOL. I. 




One day, overwhelmed with troubles, and knowing not what 
to do, it occurred to me to speak to a man of merit and 
distinction, who often came to the neighbourhood, and 
who is reputed very spiritual. I wrote him a note to fix a 
time, as I had need of his advice. As soon as I was before 
the Holy Sacrament I felt a terrible pain. "What ! " (it was 
reproached me), "thou seekest to console thyself and to 
shake off my yoke." My husband was then living. I sent 
as quickly as possible another note to beg him to excuse 
me, and as I believed him spiritual, I said to myself, " If 
he is spiritual, he will not be ofifended ; if he is not so, I 
should be sorry to speak to him." I told him that it had 
only been from self-love I had desired this conversation, 
and not from a true necessity ; that, as I knew he under- 
stood what it was to be faithful to God, I had thought he 
would not be displeased that I used this Christian simpli- 
city with him. He, however, was hurt ; and this surprised 
me the more as I had conceived great ideas of his virtue. 
He certainly has it, but they are living virtues, which are 
ignorant even of the paths of death. You have been, my 
God, my faithful conductor even in my abjectness, as I have 
discovered with wonder when it was past. Everlasting 
praise to you, my God ! I am obliged to render this 
testimony to your goodness, that you have made me do 
right by a gentle necessity, and on my side I have paid 



your bounties only with ingratitude, and I have respondecl 
to them only by continual infidelities. How often at fsight 
of your mercies to me have I said that if I was damned, a 
new hell must be made for me— the hell of the devils being 
too mild to lumish so much ingratitude. 

Before continuing my narrative, I must make a remark, 
that our Lord has suggested to me, on the way by which 
it has pleased his goodness to conduct me, which is, that in 
proportion to its obscurity is it more sure ; because, leaving 
the soul no support, she was, in spite of herself, con- 
strained to lose herself. What T have also noticed is, 
that the soul, although she may not be especially applied 
to any of the states of Jesus Christ, yet finds herself on 
emerging from her mire clothed with all the inclinations 
of Jesus Christ, without having paid any attention to it, 
and this state communicates to her Jesus Christ himself 
and his divine states ; this is truly to be clothed with 
Jesus Christ. This soul, previously so impure and self- 
centred, is here purified like gold in the crucible. This 
person, full of his judgment and his will, finds himself 
without resistance, and is obedient to a child. lie cannot 
even find any will in himself. His mind unresistingly 
puts aside his own thoughts to receive those of others; 
formerly he would have disputed over a matter of in- 
difference, afterwards he yields at once, not with difticulty, 
as formerly, or through the practice of virtue, but as if 
quite naturally. His own views are dissipated of them- 
selves as soon as those of others appear. This creature, 
formerly so vain, afterwards loves only littleness, poverty, 
and abjectness. He was formerly a self- worshipper ; now 
he forgets himself incessantly. He used to prefer himself 
to everybody, and he prefers everybody to himself. At tho 
commencement this is done in a manner perceived and 
by ojDposing self, afterwards it appears as quite acquired 
and without difficult3\ In the state of humiliation, of 
w^hich I have just spoken, everything appears lost. "When 


212 MADAME GUYON. [Paut I. 

this state is passed, evei7tbing is found io the soul ; but 
in a manner so easy and so natural that it is not discovered 
until it is necessary to see it. She has also an immense 
charity for her neighbour, and to endure his defects and 
^Ycaknesses, which formerly she could only do ^vith ex- 
treme difficulty; for one has, through lack of light, a 
bitter zeal against the defects of one's neighbour. The 
most defective persons are now become lovable to her ; 
that anger of the wolf is changed into the gentleness 
of the lamb. At the commencement I loved practices of 
humiliation, and to do the lowest things, such as to sweep> 
and when I went to see the poor, to make their bed and 
do house-work. When I went into the convent I used 
to wash the plates. I performed penances in public 
like others, but afterwards I forgot all this, and it did 
not occur to me to ask for them or perform them. When 
I was told, I did it with joy, but of myself I took no thought 
of anything. 

During the time of my experience of abjectuess, I 
sought no outward recreations. On the contrary, they 
were disagreeable to me, and I wished not to see or to 
know anything. When the others went to see anything, 
I remained at home. My closet was my sole diversion. 
I found myself near the Queen, whom I had not seen, and 
whom I would have well enough liked to see, as well as 
Monseigncur, who was also there. I had only to open my 
eyes, and I did not do it. I loved to hear singing, yet I 
was once four days with a person who was reputed to have 
the most beautiful voice without asking her to sing ; which 
astonished her, because she was not ignorant, that know- 
ing her name, I must know the beauty of her voice. I 
have, nevertheless, committed striking infidelities in in- 
forming myself of what others said of me in blame. There 
was a person who told me everything, and though I said 
nothing in reply, and it served only to crucify me, I saw 
very well self-love and nature made me ask it. I could 


not express the number of my paltrinesses, l)ut they aro 
BO greatly surmounted by your bounties, my God, and 
so lost in them that I can no longer sec them. One of 
the things that caused mo the greatest trouble in the 
seven years I have mentioned, especially the last five, 
was a strange folly of my imagination that gave me no 
repose; my senses kept it company, so that I could no 
longer shut my eyes in church, and thus, all the gates 
being opened, I had to look upon myself as a vino exposed 
to pillage, because the hedges that the husbandman had 
planted were torn down. I then saw all that was done, 
and all who came and went in the church— a state very 
different from the other. The same power that had 
drawn me inwards to concentrate me, seemed to push 
me outwards to dissipate me. 

Overwhelmed then with abjcctness of all kinds, crushed 
with vexations, wearied under the cross, I made up my 
mind to finish my days in this way ; no hope was left me 
of ever emerging from this painful state. But, however, 
believing I bad lost for ever grace and the salvation it 
earns for us, I would have liked at least to do what I 
could for a God whom I thought I should never love, 
and seeing the place whence I had fallen, I would have 
liked to serve him from gratitude, though I deemed 
myself a victim destined for hell. At another time the 
view of such a happy state gave rise in me to certain 
secret desires of returning to it ; but suddenly I was cast 
back into the depth of the abyss, whence I did not utter 
even a sigh, abiding for ever in the state due to unfaith- 
ful souls. I remained some time in this state, like the 
eternally dead who must never live again. It seems to 
me that this passage suited me admirably : " I am like the 
dead, blotted out from the heart." It seemed to me, my 
God, I was for ever effaced from your heart, and from that 
of all creatures. Gradually my state ceased to be painful. 
I became even insensible to it, and my insensibility 


appeared to me the final barclening of my reprobation. My 
coldness appeared to me a coldness of death. Such was 
the state of things, my God, because you made me pass 
away lovingly into you, as I am about to tell. 

To resume my narrative. It happened that one of my 
footmen wished to turn Bernabite, and I wrote of it to 
Father La Mothe. He told me that I must address Father 
La Combe, who was then Superior of the Bernabites at 
Tonon. This obliged me to write to him. I had always 
preserved a basis of respect and esteem for his grace. I 
was very glad of this opportunity of recommending myself 
to his prayers. As I could speak only of what was most 
real to me, I wrote him that I was fallen from the grace of 
my God ; that I had repaid his benefits with the blackest 
ingratitude; in short, that I was abjectness itself and a 
subject deserving compassion; and that, far from having 
advanced towards my God, I had entirely alienated myself 
from him. He answered me as if he had known by a 
supernatural light, in spite of the frightful picture I drew 
of myself, that my state was one of grace. He wrote to me 
in this way, but I was very far from being convinced. 
During the time of my abjectness Geneva occurred to my 
mind in a manner I cannot tell. It greatly alarmed me. 
I said to myself, "What! for crown of desertion wouldst 
thou proceed to this excess of impiety, to quit the faith by 
an apostasy ? " I believed myself capable of every evil ; 
and the extreme hardening in which I found myself, joined 
to a general disgust of everything that is called good, 
made me utterly distrustful of myself. I said, *' Should I 
be capable of leaving the Church, for which I would give a 
thousand lives ? What ! this faith that I would have 
wished to seal with my blood, would it be possible I should 
alienate myself from it ? " It seemed to me I could hope 
nothing from myself, and that I had a thousand reasons to 
fear, after the experience I had of my weakness. How- 
ever, the letter I had received from Father La Combe, 

Chap. XXVII.] AUTOBIOGRAmY. 21 r. 

wherein ho told mo his present disposition, wliich was 
similar enough to that preceding my stato of abjectncss, 
had such an effect upon mo because you thus willed it, 
my God, that it brought pcaco to my mind and calm to 
my heart. I oven found myself inwardly united to him, as 
to a person of great grace. Some time after this, at night, 
in a dream, a little deformed nun presented herself to mo, 
who, however, appeared to mc both dead and blessed. She 
said to me, " My sister, I come to tell you that God wishes 
you at Geneva." She said something more which I do not 
remember. I was extremely consoled, but I did not know 
what it meant. From the portrait of Mother Bon, which I 
have since seen, I have recognized it was she ; and tho 
time when I saw her corresponds with that of her death. 

About eight or ten days before the Magdalen's Day, 
1G80, it occurred to me to write again to Father La Combe, 
and to beg him, if he received my letter before the 
Magdalen's Day, to say the Mass for me on that day. 
You caused, my God, that this letter — unlike others 
which he received only very late, for want of messengers 
to fetch them on foot from Chambery — was handed to 
him the eve of the Magdalen's, and on the Day of tho 
Magdalen he said the Mass for me. As he offered me to 
God at the first memento, it was said to him three times 
with much vehemence, *' You shall both dwell in tho same 
place." He was greatly surprised, as he had never had 
interior speech. I believe, my God, that this is rather 
verified in respect to the interior and the identity of the 
crucifying circumstances to which wo have alike been 
exposed, and in respect of yourself, God, who are our 
dwelling-place, than with regard to temporal residence ; for 
although I have been some time in the same country with 
him, and that your providence has furnished us with some 
occasions of being together, it appears to me it is much 
more verified by the rest, since I have the advantage as 
well as he of confessing Jesus Christ crucified. 

216 JIADAME GUYOX. [Part T. 


It "was this happy Day of the Magdalen that my soul was 
perfectly delivered from all her troubles. She already 
commenced after the first letter from Father La Combe, 
to recover a new life, yet she was like a dead man brought 
back to life, not yet released from his grave-clothes ; but 
on this day I was as if in perfect life. I found myself as 
much elevated above nature as I had been rigorously 
captive under its load. I was astonished at this new 
liberty, and to see returned, but with as much magnificence 
as purity, him whom I thought I had lost for ever. What 
I possessed was so simple, so immense, that I cannot ex- 
press it. It was then, my God, that I found again in you 
ineffably all that I had lost. You restored it to me with 
fresh advantages. My trouble and my pain were changed 
into a peace such that, the better to explain, I call it 
God-Peace. The peace I possessed before this time was 
indeed the peace of God — peace, the gift of God ; but it was 
not God-Peace — peace which he possesses in himself, and 
which is found only in him. 

Although my joy was extremely great, it was not then 
allowed me to give way to it. The recollection of my past 
abjectness hindered me from rejoicing, or letting nature 
have a part in anything whatsoever. As soon as it wished 
to see or taste anything, the spirit made it pass beyond 
all. I could not better explain the era])ire the spirit had 


then over nature than as a famous conqueror, who mif^ht 
himself have been kept prisoner by the enemy ho has 
conquered. He would with authority make him do what 
he pleased, and there would bo in him no longer resistance. 
I was very far then from exalting myself, or attributing to 
myself anything of this new state ; for my experience made 
me see and feel what I was. I saw, indeed, it was a change 
of state which would last with me some time, but I did not 
believe my happiness as great and as immovable as it was. 
If a blessing is judged by the toil that has preceded it, I 
leave you to judge mine by the toils I had to l)ear before 
possessing it. Paul, you say that the toils of this lift' 
are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is pre- 
pared for us. It is true even in this life, where I can 
say from actual experience, that all the toils one suffers 
here would not be anything compared with the happi- 
ness of possessing you in yourself in the way my soul did. 
One day of this happiness would be indeed the recompense 
with usury for many years of suffering. Although then 
only in its rising dawn, it was nevertheless such as I 
describe it. Every facility for good was restored to mo 
far greater than before ; but in a manner so free, so spon- 
taneous, that it seemed to have become natural to me. 

At the commencement this liberty had less extent, but 
the more I advanced, the more great the liberty became. 
I had occasion to see M. Bertot for some moments. I told 
him I believed my state much changed, without telHng him 
the details, nor what I experienced, nor that which had 
preceded it. I had very little time to speak to him, and 
further, he was attending to something else. You, my 
God, permitted that he said to me, " No," perhaps without 
thinking of it. I believed him, for grace made me believe 
what was said to me, in spite of my lights and my experi- 
ences; so that when I was told the contrary of what I thought, 
every other thought was banished from my mind, which 
remained so submissive to what was said to it that it had 

218 MADAME GUYON. [Paut I. 

not even a contrary thought or reflection. This caused me 
no trouble, for every state was indifferent to me. Every 
day, however, I felt increasing within mc a species of 
beatitude. I was entirely delivered from all pain, and 
from all tendencies I thought I had to sin. 

It seems to me I then performed all kinds of good, freed 
from self-hood or self-regard, and if a self-regard presented 
itself, it was at once dissipated. It seemed to me as if a 
curtain was dra'vsTi, which covered that thought, and made 
it no longer appear. My imagination was entirely fixed, 
so I had no longer trouble with it. I was astonished at 
the clearness of my mind and purity of my heart. I re- 
ceived a letter from Father La Combe, who wrote me that 
God had made him know he had great designs for me ; 
whether they be of justice, or of mercy, all is alike to me. 
It had been said to him, "You shall both dwell in the 
same place." He knew no more, and God did not then let 
him know anything more particular. I had still Geneva 
in the bottom of my heart, without mentioning it to any one. 
I did not stop even to think of it, or of what Father La 
Combe had told me of the designs of God for my soul. I 
received all this with an entire indifference, without wish- 
ing either to occupy myself with it or to think of it ; await- 
ing all, my God, from your all-powerful will. As my 
abjectness was still so near, I feared even it might be a 
trick of the Devil, who, by amusing me with the thought of 
a good I had not, would make me lose that I possessed, by 
withdrawing me from my state. This fear was gentle, 
peaceable, animated with confidence and hope. The more 
miserable I saw myself, the more suitable for your designs, 
God, I saw myself ; and it seemed to me my abjectness, 
my incapacity, and my nothingness, not being able to rob 
God of anything he did, he alone would have all the glory 
of his works. I said to you, " my Lord, take the miser- 
able and the stupid to perform your works in order that 
all the glory may be given to you, and that man may claim 


nothinfj of it. If you took a person of ^rcat virtiio, and c-n- 
riclied with talents, something might be ascribed to him, but 
if you take me it will bo well seen you alone are the author 
of all that you shall do." I remained thus, without think- 
ing any more of it, nor occupying myself with it in the very 
least, convinced, as I was, that if you wished anything from 
mo, my God, you would furnish mc with the means. I, 
however, kept myself in expectancj% with a firm will to 
execute your orders at the expense of my own life when 
you should make them known. You removed all 
crosses, and you gave mo so great a facility for everything, 
I was surprised at it. I took again to dressing wounds, 
and you caused me to heal the most incurable. When the 
surgeons would no longer attend to them or wanted to cut 
off the diseased limbs, it was then you caused mc to cure 
them. I became so free, I could have remained all day in 
church, although I had nothing of the sensible ; and also I 
was no way distressed at not being there, finding every- 
where, in a very great immensity and vastness, him whom 
I no longer possessed, but who had swallowed me up in 

Oh, how truly have I experienced what you say in your 
Gospel, which is repeated in the four Gospels not without 
reason, and even said twice in one Gospel, that whoever 
will lose his life shall find it, and whoever will save it, 
shall lose it. happy loss, which a happy necessity 
forced me to make. When I believed myself lost without 
resource, it was then I found myself saved. When I no 
longer hoped anything from myself, I found all in my God. 
When I had lost every good, I found in him all kinds of 
good. When I had lost all created and even divine 
supports, I found myself under the happy necessity of 
falling into the Divine itself, and of falling into it through 
everything I thought separated mc the further from it. In 
losing all the gifts I found the Giver. In losing you, my 
God, in me, I found you in yourself, in the immovable, to 

220 MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 

lose you no more. poor creatures, who pass all your 
life in tasting the gifts of God, and who think thereby you 
are the most favoured and the most happy ; how I yet pity 
you, if you do not go to my God through the loss of those 
same gifts ! How many souls pass all their life in this 
way, and believe themselves prodigies ! There are other 
persons who, being destined by God to die to themselves, 
pass all their life in a dying life and in strange agonies, 
without ever entering into God through total death and 
loss, because they still wish under good pretexts to re- 
tain something, and never lose themselves in all the extent 
of the designs of God. For this reason they never enjoy 
God in fulness, which is a loss that will only be perfectly 
known in the other life. 

my Lord, what happiness did I not taste in my little 
solitude, and my little household, where nothing interrupted 
my repose ! As I was a long time in the country, and the 
tender age of my children did not require too much of my 
attention, besides that they were in good hands, I withdrew 
all day into the wood, where I passed as many happy days 
as I had had there months of grief. For it was there I 
previously gave free course to grief to destroy me. It was 
also where in the commencement I gave place to love to 
consume me, and it was where now I let myself be more 
lost in an infinite and incomprehensible abyss. I can tell 
nothing of what took place in me, as it was too pure, too 
simple and too outside of me. 

You treated me, my God, like your servant Job, 
restoring to mo double what you had taken from me, and 
delivering me from my crosses. You gave me a wonderful 
facility to please everybody, and what is more surprising, 
my mother-in-law, who up to that had always complained 
of me, whatever care I might have taken to satisfy her, 
declared that it was impossible to be more pleased with 
me than she was. Persons who had most decried me 
expressed sorrow at it, and became my panegyrists. My 


reputation was the more lirmly established as it appeared 
the more lost. I continued in an entire peace both out- 
ward and inward. You did that, my God, to render the 
sacrifice you were preparing to cause me to make both 
more painful and more perfect ; for had I been obliged to 
break away during the time of persecution, it would have 
been a relief, and not a sacrifice ; perhaps, also, I should 
never have been able to resolve to leave during the time of 
my troubles. I would always, doubtless, have been appre- 
hensive of descending from the cross of myself and being 
unfaithful to it. It seems to me that one could not bo 
more content and more happy than I was. As the cross 
had always been my faithful companion and friend, there 
awoke from time to time little pains at no longer suffering ; 
but they were immediately absorbed in a central depth which 
could not admit any desires. Although the body suffered 
great pains, there was no longer pain, but a central depth 
which beatified everything. It seems to me that my soul 
was become like that New Jerusalem which is spoken of in 
the Apocalypse, where there is no more either crying or 
pain. The indifference in me was perfect, and the union to 
the good pleasure of God so great, that I did not find in 
myself any desire or tendency. What appeared then most 
lost in me was the will, for I did not find it for anything 
whatever. My soul could not incline herself more to one 
side than to another. All she could do was to nourish her- 
self from the daily providences. She found another will 
had taken the place of her own — a will all divine, which 
yet was so her own and so natural, that she found herself 
infinitely more free in this will than she had been in 
her own. 

These dispositions, which I describe as of a time past 
to avoid confusion, have ever since subsisted, and have 
even continually grown more strong and perfect up to the 
present hou •. I could desire neither one thing nor the 
other ; but I was content with all that happened without 

222 MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 

paying attention to or reflecting on it, unless some one 
said to me, *' Do you wish this or that ? " and then I was 
astonished at no longer finding in me that which could 
wish. It was as if everything had disappeared from within 
me, and a greater power had taken its place. I had indeed 
experienced in the times preceding my trouble that a more 
powerful than I conducted me and made me act. I had 
not then, it seems to me, a will except to submit myself 
with acquiescence to all he did in me and through me ; but 
here it was no longer the same. I had no more a will to 
submit ; it had, as it were, disappeared, or, rather, passed 
into another will. It seems to me that this powerful and 
strong One did all that pleased him ; and I no more found 
that soul which he formerly conducted by his crook and 
his staff with an extreme love. He appeared to me alone, 
and as if this soul had given place to him, or, rather, had 
passed into him, henceforth to become only one same thing 
with him. 

union of unity, asked from God by Jesus Christ for 
men, and earned by the same Jesus Christ, how powerful 
art thou in a soul that thou dost thus annihilate in her 
God ! It is here, then, after the consummation of this 
divine unity, that the soul remains hidden with Jesus 
Christ in God. happy loss, and so much the more 
happy as it is not one of those transitory losses that 
ecstasy produces, which are rather absorptions than losses, 
since the soul finds herself immediately after ; but one of 
those permanent durable losses, which go on continually 
losing themselves in an immense sea, as a little fish would 
go continually sinking down into an infinite sea. But the 
comparison does not appear to me sufficiently accurate. 
It is rather like a little drop of water cast into the sea, 
which continually acquires more the qualities of the same 
sea. This soul was receiving, without power to incline 
herself or to choose. When I speak of power, I do not 
understand it of absolute power, but of that of a soul 

CiiAP. XXVIir.] AUTOBtOGRAPnt, 12:i 

which has still elections and desires. She received in 
perfect indiffercneo what was given or done to her. At 
the commencement she still committed some faults of 
precipitancy ; but this was as if outside of her, without, 
however, her knowing her state. 

224 MADAME GUYON. [rAur I. 


I WAS obliged to go to Paris for some business, and having 
entered a church, which was very gloomy, to make my 
confession, I went to the first confessor I found, whom I 
did not know, and whom I have never since seen. I simply 
made my confession — a very short one — and did not say a 
word to this confessor. I was greatly surprised when ho 
said to me, "I know not who you are, whether you are 
maid, wife, or widow ; but I feel a strong interior move- 
ment to tell you, that you should do what our Lord has 
made you know he desired of you. I have only that to say 
to you." I answered him, " My Father, I am a widow, 
who have little children four and six years of age. What 
else could God desire of me but to rear them ? " He said 
to me, " I know nothing of it. You know whether God has 
made you recognize that he wished something of you. If 
it is so, there is nothing which should hinder you from 
doing his will. One must leave one's children to do it." 

This greatly surprised me. I, however, said nothing to 
him of what I felt for Geneva. I, nevertheless, quietly 
prepared myself to leave everything if you wished it of me, 
my God, and if you brought about the opportunities 
through your divine providence. I did not look upon it 
as a good to which I aspired, nor as a virtue I hoped to 
acquire, nor as an extraordinary thing, nor as an act 
which deserved some return on God's part. I did not 


embrace it as through zeal— this appeared dead in me ; 
but I let myself gently go to what I was told was the 
will of God, to which mine could make no resistance— not 
through acquiescence as formerly, but as no longer existing, 
and no longer distinguishing or paying attention. AVhile 
I was in this disposition, living in my family with extreme 
tranquillity, without troubling myself with all that, a monk 
of the Order of St. Dominic, one of my friends, had a great 
desire to go as a missionary to Siam. He dwelt at twenty 
leagues from us. When he was ready to make the vow 
that he had written out to repeat, it was not possible for 
him to do so. He was given to understand he ought to 
come and speak to me about it. He came immediately, 
and, as he had some repugnance to telling me, he wont to 
say the Mass in my chapel, believing God would be satisfied 
if he should make his vow while celebrating the Mass 
in my hearing. But he was hindered ; so that he left the 
chapel after he had put on the amice, which he took off to 
come and speak to me. He then told me his project. 
Although I had no feeling or thought of doing anything 
positive, I felt myself impelled to tell him what had 
happened to me, and the notion which I had a long time 
for Geneva. I related to him even a dream that appeared 
supernatural, which had occurred to me on the night 
of the Transfiguration, the 0th August, exactly one year 
before I made the vows, of which I will speak hereafter. 
I seemed to see the ecclesiastic of our house with my 
youngest sou, looking with much admiration at the heaven. 
They cried out that the heaven was open. They begged 
me to come, that they saw Tabor and the heaven 
opened. I told them I did not wish to go there ; that 
Tabor was not for me ; that I needed only Calvary. They 
pressed me so strongly to go out that, unable to resist 
their importunity, I went. I saw only a remnant of light ; 
and at the same time I saw descending from heaven a 
cross of immense size. I saw a number of people of all 

VOL. I. *i 

226 MADAME GUYON. Part I. 

kinds— priests, monks — endeavouring to binder it coming. 
I did nothing but remain quietly in my place, witbout 
trying to take it; but I was content. I perceived it 
approacbed me. Witb it tbere was a standard of tbe 
same colour as tbe cross. It came and cast itself of its 
own accord into my arms. I received it witb extreme 
joy. Tbe Benedictines baving wisbed to take it from 
me, it witbdi-ew from tbeir bands to cast itself into 

As I was conversing witb tbe Fatber about tbis, I bad 
a strong movement to say to bim, "My Fatber, you will 
not go to Siam. You will serve me in tbis business, and it 
is for tbis God bas sent you bere. I beg you to give me 
your opinion." (He is very learned.) He told me be would 
remain three days with me in tbe country, and that, after 
having recommended the business to God for these three 
days, and said three Masses, he would let me know his 
sentiment. After tbis time, then, he told me that he believed 
it was tbe will of God I should go to that country, but in 
order to be more sure, it was necessary to see the Bishop 
of Geneva ; that if be approved my design, it was a mark 
that it was of God; that if be condemned it, I should 
think no more of it. I adopted his view, and he offered to 
go to Annecy, to see tbe Bishop of Geneva and speak to 
him, and to give me a faithful report of what they should 
have determined together. As be was advanced in years, 
we were discussing in what way he should make such a 
long journey without being inconvenienced, when there 
ai-rived two monks, passers-by, who told us tbe Bishop of 
Geneva was at Paris. This appeared to me, my God, a 
miracle of your providence. Tbe worthy monk resolved 
to go there. He counselled me to write to Father La Combe 
to know his sentiment, and to recommend the business 
to bis prayers, for be knew he was of that country. He 
then spoke at Paris to the Bishop of Geneva, and as there 
occurred an affair, which Divine Providence arranged for 


me, to oblige me to go to Paris, I spoke myself to the 
Bishop of Geneva. 

I told liim my design was to go into that country, and 
there to employ my wealth in founding an establishment 
for all those who would truly turn to God and give them- 
selves to him without reserve; that many servants of God, 
both male and female, assured me God demanded this of 
me ; and although I did not feel any marked inclination 
for it, I yet thought myself bound to obey the voice of God, 
which was indicated to me, since so many diflcrent per- 
sons, mutually unacquainted, and far separated the one 
from the other, told me the same thing. The Bisliop of 
Geneva approved of my design, and informed me that there 
were some New Catholics who wished to go and establish 
themselves at Gex, and that it was a providence. I 
answered him I had no vocation for Gex, but for Geneva. 
He told me I should be able to go thence to Geneva. I 
believed it was an opportunity which Divine Providence 
sent me, to make the journey with less difficulty, and as 1 
knew nothing positive of what God wished of me, I would 
not offer any opposition. "Perhaps," I said, "he desires 
that I should merely contribute to this establishment." 

I went to see the Superior of the New Catholics at Paris, 
to know how things were going on. She testified great 
joy, and assured me she would be one of the party. As 
she is a great servant of God, this confirmed me, for when 
I could reflect a moment, which was rare, I thought God 
would .take her for her virtue and me for my money ; for 
as soon as through unfaithfulness I regarded myself, 1 
could not believe God wished to make use of me ; but when 
I saw things in God, it seemed to me that the more insig- 
nificant I was, the more suited was I to his designs. As I 
did not see anything in me extraordinary, and believed 
myself in the lowest stage of perfection, and it appeared to 
me for want of light — for my soul was not perfectly estab- 
lished in the eternal light, which is you, my God — as, 1 

228 MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 

say, it appeared to me that extraordinary lights were 
needed for extraordinary designs, this made me hesitate 
and fear deception. I did not sufficiently understand that 
to follow step by step 3-our divine providence was the 
greatest and purest hght ; and besides this, you gave me 
continual lights, and so much the more admirable as I the 
less sought them. It is not that I feared anything for my 
salvation and perfection, which I had made over to God ; 
but I feared not doing his will from being too desirous to 
do it. I went to consult Father Claude Martin, son of the 
Mother of the Incarnation, of Canada. He did not then 
decide anything for me, asking time to pray, and that he 
would write to me what was God's will for me. 

I had some hesitation in speaking to M. Bertot, as well 
owing to the difficulty of speaking to him, as because I 
knew how much he condemned anything extraordinary ; 
and besides he gave me no assistance for my spiritual life, 
which, he said, was the prayer of affection, although I did 
not know what it meant. I submitted against my own 
lights to what he told me, though he had previously 
declared it the prayer of faith ; but I gave up all my own 
experience when it was a question of believing and obeying. 
How should he have known my spiritual state when I 
could tell him nothing of it ? I thought, however, though 
he did not aid me, I ought to address him on a matter of 
this importance, and to prefer his lights to all others, 
persuaded as I was he would infallibly tell me the will of 
God. I went to him then, and he told me my design was 
from God, and that some time previously God had made 
known to him he wished something of me. I believed him 
without hesitation, and I returned to arrange everything. 
The more confirmed I saw myself, the more apprehensive 
I was without apprehension, because I much loved my 
children, and no one could be more contented than I then 
was. When I returned home, I abandoned, or rather, left 
myself in the hands of God, resolved not to take a step 


either to further or hinder the matter. I loft myRclf a 
prey to providence, making a sacrifice in the will, while 
waiting to make a real one. 

I had mysterious dreams which presaged only crosses, 
persecutions and griefs. My heart submitted itself to 
all that its God could will for it. I had one very sig- 
nificant. While engaged in some necessary work, I saw 
near me a very small animal which looked as if dead. 
This animal appeared to me to be the envy of some 
persons which seemed lately to be deadened. I caught 
this animal, and as I saw he exerted himself to sting 
me and grew bigger under my eyes, I threw him away. 
I found he had filled my fingers, as it were, with needles. 
I went up to a person I knew very well in order that 
he should remove them for me ; but he stuck them deeper 
into me, and I continued full of these stings until a 
charitable priest of extraordinary merit (whose face is 
still before me, although I have never seen him ; but I 
believe I shall see him before dying) caught that animal 
with pincers. As soon as he held it tight, my stings 
fell out of themselves, and I found an easy entrance 
into a place which had previously appeared to me in- 
accessible ; and although there was mud as deep as the 
waist in going to a deserted church, I passed over it with- 
out soiling myself. It will be easy from the sequel of my 
life to see what this signifies. 

People, doubtless, will be astonished that, attaching so 
little importance to things extraordinary, I relate these 
dreams. I do it for two reasons : the first, through fidelity, 
having promised to omit nothing that should occur to my 
mind ; the second, because it is the mode God makes use of 
to communicate with souls of faith, to give them intimations 
of the future in things that concern them ; although there 
is a manner of knowing of extreme purity with which be 
endows them, and which I shall explain elsewhere. These 
extraordinary dreams are found in numerous places in Holy 

230 MADAME GUYON. [Part T. 

Scripture. They have especial characteristics, such as, to 
leave a certainty they are mysterious, and that they will be 
realized in their time ; of almost never escaping from the 
memory, though one forgets all others ; of redoubling the 
certainty of then* truth as often as one thinks of them or 
speaks of them ; moreover, they produce for the most part 
on waking up a certain unction. 

A Benedictine nun, who is a most holy woman, in their 
refectory saw our Lord on the cross and the Holy Virgin 
near him, and they appeared in great pain. They made 
movements which seemed to mark their sufferings and the 
desire they had to find some one who would be willing to 
share them. She ran to inform the prioress. She said 
she was busy and could not go. In fact, she was amusing 
herself with flowers and trees. Not finding any one who 
was willing to go, in great trouble she met and told me. 
I at once ran there, and our Lord appeared very pleased. 
He received and embraced me as if to associate me in 
his sufferings, after which he no longer had pain. When 
she told me this, I said nothing to her of my designs. At 
the moment I understood they were designs of crosses, 
disgrace and ignominy, to make me bear Jesus crucified. 

I received a letter from Father La Combe, who told me 
that he had caused some very holy women in that neigh- 
bourhood to pray, and that all said God wanted me at 
Geneva. A nun of the Visitation, who is a very holy 
woman, told me that God had made the same thing known 
to her, and that it had been said to her, " She will be 
daughter of the Cross of Geneva." An UrsuHne also 
informed me that our Lord had said to her, that he 
destined me to be the eye of the blind, the foot of the lame, 
etc. The ecclesiastic who was at our house greatly feared 
I might be deceived ; but what finished in confirming him 
for that time was, that Father Claude Martin, of whom I 
have spoken, wrote me that God had made known to him 
after many prayers that he wanted me at Geneva, that he 


wanted mo to make a generous sacrifice of cvcrythinf,'. I 
answered him that perhaps God wanted only a sum of 
money from me to assist a foundation that was about to 
be established there; that I would furnish it without 
leaving my children. Ho answered me, that God hud 
made known to him that he did not want my wealth, that 
he wanted my person. I received this letter and at tho 
same time another from Father La Combe, who told me the 
certainty God had given him and numerous worthy servants 
of God, that God wanted me at Geneva. Although theso 
two monks were more than a hundred and fifty leagues 
distant the one from the other, they wrote me almost tho 
same thing. I was surprised, receiving at the same time 
these two almost identical letters from people so remote. 

As soon as I believed it was your will, my God, I 
did not see anything on earth capable of stopping me. My 
senses were nevertheless given over to the pain that such 
a determination must natui-ally cause a mother who loves 
her children, and as soon as I reflected, doubt seized my 
mind. I had no interior witness. I felt neither inclination 
nor desire, but rather repugnance ; yet I surrendered my- 
self against all hope, resting on faith in God, who does not 
permit those that trust hhn to be confounded. my Love, 
if I had rested on myself or in the creature, I should have 
been apprehensive. It would have seemed to me that I 
should experience what is said in Scripture, that I should 
have rested on a reed, which, breaking, would have pierced 
my hand ; but resting upon you alone, Infinite Goodness, 
what can I fear ? What ! you who deliver those who 
hardly call upon you, could you deceive or abandon those 
who leave everything to do your will? I resolved to go 
like a mad woman, without being able to give motive or 
reason for my enterprise. They assured me you wished it, 
my God, and it was enough to make me undertake things 
the most impossible. I felt no confidence in all those who 
signified to me your will. I thought that as they did nut 

232 MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 

know me, they were deceived, and the sight of my paltriness 
made me fear everything. Yet a confidence above all con- 
fidence made me see that it was better to be deceived doing 
what I believed to be your will than to walk with more 
assurance, according to ordinary rules, in failing to do it. 
Then I said, " I am not worth the trouble of fearing to 
be deceived. my God, you cannot deceive." I firmly 
believed that you would by your providence furnish all that 
was necessary for the education of my children, and this 
in pure faith; for the senses were without support. I 
made arrangements gradually, without eagerness, not wish- 
ing to do the least thing either to put off the business or to 
advance it, or to make it succeed. Providence was my 
sole guidance. I had the infidelity to reflect, and imme- 
diately I hesitated ; but my thoughts were only, as it were, 
distractions, which were dissipated by faith. I, however, 
caused many Masses to be said. I caused devotions to be 
performed on all sides. I even gave gifts to a church 
dedicated to the Holy Virgin in order to obtain the grace of 
doing your will, and large alms for that of knowing it. 




It seemed, my God, that ^hilc working by your pro- 
vidence to make me leave all, you daily made my tics 
stronger and my departure more blamable. For, in short, 
one could not receive greater kindness from one's own 
mother than what my mother-in-law showed me at this 
time. The least petty ailment I had threw her into mortal 
disquietude. She said she had veneration for the virtue 
you had placed in mo. I believe that what not a little 
contributed to this change was that she learned from 
people who, without thinking of it, addressed themselves 
to her, that three persons had sought me in marriage ; 
and as I had refused them, although they were of a rank 
much above mine, and with great advantages, she was 
surprised at it; but what most struck her was that she 
remembered she had said to me at the time these persons 
were wooing me, that if I did not marry it was because I 
did not get the chance, and that I had not answered her 
a word to let her know it only depended on me to do so 
most advantageously. She thought that such harsh treat- 
ment as she had dealt me might perhaps induce me to 
yield to the proposals in order to deliver myself honour- 
ably from the tyranny. tShe well enough saw the injury 
this would be to my children. In short, you opened her 
eyes, and changed her harshness to tenderness. 

I fell extremely ill. I thought, my God, you were 

234 MADAME GUYON. [Pabt I. 

pleased with the "will of my sacrifice, and you wished that 
of my life. It was in this illness my mother-in-law showed 
me the tenderness she had for me. She hardly stirred 
from my bedside, and the tears she shed showed the sincerity 
of her affection. I felt very grateful to her, and it seemed 
to me I loved her as a true mother. "Why should I leave 
her when she loved me so much, and was so advanced in 
years ? That maid, who hitherto had been my plague, 
took an inconceivable affection for me. She praised me 
everywhere, saying I was a true saint, although I was so 
far from it. She served me with extraordinary respect ; 
begged my pardon for what she had made me suffer. She 
died of regret after my departure. 

There was a priest of worth, and spiritually minded, 
who had accepted an employment, contrary to advice 
I had given him. I could not believe God wished it 
for him. It was that he engaged himself with the man 
with whom I had formerly been connected, and who so 
much persecuted me. He did it secretly, after having 
told me he would not do so. Our Lord, who wished to save 
him, made him soon die. I saw him gradually fall from 
his grace through this infidelity, at the time of the perse- 
cution by that person, with whom he dwelt. I learned that 
he had adopted what he told him of me ; that he had even 
jested on it with him. I took no notice, and did not 
even see him. I was in the country when he died. I had 
no necessity to be informed of his death. For forty-eight 
hours I bore him under a pain of purgatory and great 
terrors. It was given me to understand that he came to 
perform a purgatory with me, because he had been a par- 
tisan in the calumny. I communicated for him, and I no 
longer felt him. I have never borne purgatory so sensibly 
as that. 

There was a nun in a convent I often went to. During 
six months I was in the country this woman had entered 
into a state of purification that every one in the house 


regarded as madness. They shut her up oven with 
violence, and this nearly ruined her. All persons they had 
shown her to said it was madness. On my return I went 
into that house. They told me she had become mad. I 
knew she was a holy woman. I asked to see her. As soon 
as she approached me, I felt the impression as from a soul 
in purgatory. I understood at once it was not madness, 
but a state of purification. I said to the Superior, I begged 
they would not shut her up ; that they would not show her 
to any one ; and that she would have the kindness to trust 
her to me ; that I hoped things would change. I under- 
stood her greatest trouble was to pass as mad ; that she 
had a very great repugnance for this ; and that when the 
state of madness presented itself to her mind with the 
thought of sacrificing herself to it, far from doing so, she 
resisted and became quite furious. I counselled her to 
sacrifice herself to bear the state of madness, which Jesus 
Christ had been willing to bear before Herod. This sacrifice 
gave her at once more calm ; but as God wished to purify 
this soul, he purified her from all things to which she had 
had most attachment. She had for her Superior a very 
strong attachment. She experienced as regards her a 
strange trouble, which was a desire of seeing her and 
being near her, and as soon as she approached her, a 
frightful hatred and opposition. It was the same in all 
her spiritual exercises for which she had had attachment. 
She formerly passed days before the Holy Sacrament ; and 
now she could not continue there a single instant. This 
convinced them still more she was mad. 1 had in my 
central depth an instinct of just judgment, which did not 
deceive me, and I asserted the contrary ; but as to the 
impression of her state as that of purgatory, it was given 
me when she approached me. At last, after having suffered 
strangely, her Superior wrote me that I had been right, 
and that she had emerged from it purified us an angel. 
God permitted I was the only person who knew her state. 

236 MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 

You commenced to give me at this time, my God, the 
discernment of spirits. 

The winter preceding the year of my departm*e was one 
of the longest and most severe there had been for many 
years. It was in 1680. There was extreme want, which 
furnished me with the opportunity of exercising large 
charities ; for besides what I gave in secret to respectable 
persons in poverty, who were very numerous, that which 
was done at the house in distributing bread to all the rest 
was very great. My mother-in-law shared in that of the 
house, and wc joined together for the purpose. She con- 
tributed to it with much kindness and charity ; and I found 
her so changed I was surprised and delighted at it. We 
used to give away at the house ninety-six dozen loaves 
every week ; but the secret charities were larger. I had 
girls and little boys put to a trade. All this caused my 
departure to be much blamed, and the more so as my 
charities had been striking. At this time I did not find 
anything difficult, and you gave, my God, such a bless- 
ing to my alms that I did not find it cost anything to my 
family, which extremely surprised me. Previous to the 
death of my husband, my mother-in-law having told him I 
would ruin him through my charities (although he was 
himself so charitable that in a year of scarcity, while he 
was yet unmarried, he distributed a very considerable 
sum) — as, however, my mother-in-law said this to him 
very often (and certainly I used to give excessively), he told 
me that he wished absolutely I should write down all I 
expended — what I gave for the expense of the house, all 
that I caused to be bought, in order he might judge of 
what I gave to the poor. This new obligation appeared 
to me the more harsh that during the eleven years I had 
been married, they had not thought of it. It was not the 
affront that hurt me, I think; it was rather the fear of 
not having the means of giving. I, however, submitted 
to it without retrenching anything from my charities. 


Wonder of your providence, my God ! I did not write 
tiny of my alms, and my expense was found right with- 
out a shilling more or less. I was amazed, and I saw that 
my charities were given from your capital. This made mc 
still more liberal of a w'calth which did not belong to mo. 
Oh, if people only knew how charities, far from incon- 
veniencing, bring plenty, they would be charmed at it. 
"What useless extravagance there is which might main- 
tain the poor, and which God would even repay to the 
families ! 

During the time of my great troubles, some years 
after my widowhood, the servants of the house came to 
tell me that there was on the road a poor soldier dying; 
for I was in the country. I made them bring him, and 
having had a bed prepared in a separate place, I kept 
him for more than fifteen days. I made him receive 
the Sacraments. His ailment w'as a dysentery caught 
in the army. He was so stinking, so poisonous, that 
although they were charitable enough in the house, no 
one could approach him. I continued to attend on him, 
and through your goodness, my God, you did not 
permit any harm to happen to me. I sometimes used 
to keep poor persons to dress their wounds, but that cost 
me nothing. This smell was the most terrible I have ever 
experienced in my life, and he died of the disease. 

What caused me still more trouble was the tenderness 
I had for my children, especially for my younger son, 
whom I had reason to love. I saw him disposed to good, 
and it seemed to me that everything in his natural dis- 
position favoured the hopes I had conceived of him. It 
was a great risk to leave him to be educated by others, 
and this cost me more trouble in leaving him than all the 
rest. I would have wished to take my daughter with me. 
I did not think I ought to leave her, but she was bulltring 
for three years from a triple-quartan fever, so that it ap- 
peared out of the question to take her. Yet, my God, 

238 MADAME GUYON. [Pabt I. 

you, through your providence, caused her health to be 
restored bo suddenly and so perfectly, four months before 
my departure, that I found her in a state to go with me. 

The bonds by which you held me united to you, my 
God, were infinitely stronger than those of flesh and blood. 
It seemed to me my only duty was to do your will, and, 
though I should not have been yours in virtue of my 
creation, and through the engagement of my redemption ; 
the laws of my sacred marriage, are they not to leave all 
to follow the Spouse ? I had then to follow you where 
3-ou called me, for, although I hesitated much before 
setting out, I have never doubted afterwards it was your 
will, and although men who judge things according to 
the measm'e of success they appear to have, have taken 
the opportunity of my defeat and my disgraces to judge 
my call, and to convict it of error, illusion, and falsity, it 
is this very overthrow, and the strange multitude of crosses 
it has drawn upon me, which have made me convinced of 
its truth ; so that, although the prison where I now am be a 
consequence of it, I am more convinced than ever that the 
abandonment I have made of all things has been according 
to your will. K it was not so, your Gospel would not be 
true, where it promises a hundred-fold in this life and per- 
secutions to those who will quit all for your love. Have I 
not had the hundred-fold infinitely through the entire 
possession you have taken of me ; through the unshaken 
firmness you give me in my sufferings; through perfect 
tranquillity in the midst of the most furious tempest 
with which I am beaten from every side ; through a joy, 
largeness, and infinite liberty in the closest and strictest 
imprisonment ? "What persecutions have burst upon me, 
as will be seen, and which I am not yet at the end of, 
since I am still a prisoner ! I do not desire my prison to 
cease ; I love my chains. All is alike to me, since I have 
no other will nor other love than the love and the will of 
him who possesses me, and into whom I am passed. It 


must not be thought ho gives mo a scnBiblo taste for my 
crosses. My heart is far removed from that. They are all 
borne very purely, but with a firmness which is not in me, 
or of me, but in him who is our life, since I dare to say 
with my Apostle, " I no longer live, but Jesus Christ lives 
in me." ** It is in him we live, we move, and have our 

To return to the subject, from which I often wander 
without thinking of it. I say then that what caused me 
the most trouble, was not so much going away, as binding 
myself to the New Cathohcs. I wished to hud in myself 
an attraction towards them. I sought it and I found 
nothing. This institution was opposed to my mind and 
to my heart; not that I would not love to contribute to 
the conversion of erring souls, since I had for their 
conversion as much attraction as I was capable of, con- 
sidering how very dead and annihilated I was as to my 
central depth; but the manner of life and spirit of this 
institution did not suit me, and when I wished to conquer 
myself in this point, and connect myself with them, my 
soul lost her peace. I might have thought I should have 
been well suited to them, since you had made use of me, 
my God, before my departure to convert entire families, 
one of which was composed of eleven or twelve persons. 
Besides, Father La Combe had told me to make use of this 
opportunity for starting, and did not tell me whether 1 
should bind myself to them or not; thus it was the provi- 
dence of my God alone, to which I had given myself up 
without reserve, that hindered me from binding myself 
with them. 

One day that through infidelity I reflected on this 
enterprise, I was a little disturbed by the fear of bemg 
mistaken, which increased when the house ecclesiastic, 
who was the only person to whom I had confided my 
secret, told me I was badly advised, that I certainly had 
not properly explained myself. Being a little cast down 

240 MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 

I had a movement to open Isaiah. On opening the book 
I found this passage: "Fear not, Jacob, who art a 
little -worm, and you Israel, ^vho are as it were dead. 
It will be I who shall lead you. Fear not, for you are 
mine. When you shall walk through the waters I will be 
with you." I had a very great courage to go, but I could 
not persuade myself it was in order to be with the New 
Catholics. It was, however, necessary that, before setting 
out, I should see Sister Garnier, Superior of the New 
Catholics at Paris, in order to take measures with her ; 
but I could not go to Paris because this journey would 
have prevented my making another at the time it would 
have been necessary for me to start. Although this 
I)erson was very ailing, she resolved to come and see 
me; but, my God, you conducted things in such a 
manner through your providence, to make everything 
come to the point of your will, that I saw every day new 
miracles which charmed me ; for with paternal kindness 
you took care of the smallest things. When she was 
about to set out she fell ill, and you permitted it so to 
give time for a person who would have discovered every- 
thing to go on a journey. At last she started, still very 
weak, and, as she had informed me of the day of her de- 
parture, when on that day I saw it was excessively hot, 
and so close that I fancied, petted, as she was, in her own 
community, that she would not be let start (which was 
true, as she herself has since told me), I addressed myself 
to our Lord to give some wind to moderate the heat, and 
enable the worthy woman to come. Hardly had I said 
this when there suddenly sprung up a wind so cool I was 
astonished at it, and this wind did not cease during her 
whole journey, until after her return. 

I went to meet her, and took her to a country house, 
BO that she was not seen or recognized by anybody. What 
embarrassed me a little was, I had two servants who knew 
her ; but as I was engaged on the conversion of a lady, I 


led the conversation so that they easily thought it was for 
this purpose I had made her come, and that it was neces- 
sary to keep the secret in order this lady might not bo 
deterred from coming by knowing who she was. You 
caused, my God, that, although I was no controversialist, 
I yet answered all her doubts, so that she could not help 
yielding. Sister Garnier had much talent and grace, but 
her words did not produce in that soul the effect thoso 
you made me speak produced, as she has herself assured 
me. She could not even help saying so. I felt a movement 
to ask her from you as a testimony of your holy will. You 
granted her to me, my God, although she did not make 
her abjuration until after my departure, and not before 
it ; as you wished to make me start without other assurance 
than this, that the Divine Providence conducted all things. 
The Sister was four days without declaring her thoughts to 
me ; on the fourth, she told me she would not come with 
me. I was the more surprised at it, as I had been per- 
suaded, God, without having regard to my abjcctness, 
would give to her virtue what he would refuse to my ill- 
deserts. Besides, the subjects she proposed to me appeared 
without supernatural grace, and quite human. This made 
me hesitate some moments; then, taking new courage 
through the abandonment of my entire self, I said to her, 
" I am not going there for you. I will, none the less, go 
there without you." She was surprised, as she confessed 
to me ; for she thought as soon as she decided not to go 
I would be no longer willing. I arranged everything; 
and I wrote on a paper the terms of the contract of asso- 
ciation with them. I had no sooner done it than, after the 
Communion, I felt dreadful burnings and trouble. I went 
to see Sister Garnier ; and as T knew she had the Spirit of 
God, I made no difficulty of telling her my pain. I made 
her understand that I had no doubt God called me to 
Geneva; but I did not know if he wished me of their 
congregation. She asked until after the Mass and the 

VOL. I. •» 

242 MADAME GUYON. [Part I. 

Communion ; and she would tell me what God wished of 
me. You made use of her, in spite of her own interests 
and against her inclination, to make me know j'our will, 
my Lord. She told me then I ought not to bind myself 
with her, and that it was not your design ; that I should 
go simply with the Sisters ; and when I should be there, 
rather La Combe (whose letter she had seen) would signify 
to me your will. I acquiesced at once in this advice, and 
my soul recovered her peace. 

My first design, or, rather, my first thought had been, 
before learning that the New Catholics were going to Gex, 
to go to Geneva, where at that time there were Catholics in 
service and otherwise, and to settle in a small room with- 
out t'cZ^jf, and without at first declaring myself; and as I 
knew how to make various ointments, to dress wounds, 
especially king's-evil, which was very prevalent in that 
place, and for which I had a very certain remedy, I would 
have thus quietly insinuated myself; besides the charities 
I would have given them. In this way I would have gained 
there many persons. I do not doubt if I had adopted this 
course things might perhaps have succeeded better. Yet I 
believed I would do better in following the opinion of the 
Bishop than my own lights. But what am I saying, 
my God ; has not your eternal design been realized and 
accomplished in me ? We speak humanly because we are 
human ; but, God, when we regard things in you, we see 
them with other eyes. Yes, my Lord, your design was to 
give Geneva not to my labour and my words, but to my 
sufferings ; for the more desperate I see things, the more I 
expect the conversion of that town, by a way known to you 
alone. Yes, Geneva, you will see within your walls the 
truth again flourish, which has been banished by error ; 
and those beautiful words which are written on your Town 
Hall, *' After diirkness, Light," will be happily verified for 
you. And although at present you take them in a quite 
contrary sense, it is certain you will be one day illuminated 


with the light of truth, and that fine temple of »St. Peter 
will again have the advantage of enclosing in its bosom our 
redoubtable mysteries. IIow true in one sense it is, my 
Lord, that you have made me daughter of the Cross of 
Geneva, and that I would cheerfully give my blood to seo 
your cross erected there. Father La Combe has since told 
me that he had had on his side a strong movement to tell 
me not to bind myself with the New Catholics ; that he 
did not believe it was the will of God, but he forgot it. I 
could no longer consult M. Bertot, for he died lour months 
before my departure. I had some sign of his death. 1 
was the only person to whom he addressed himself. It has 
seemed to me that he communicated to me his spirit to 
assist his children. A fear seized me that the repugnance 
I had felt of stripping myself in favour of the New 
Catholics of what I destined for Geneva was a trick of 
nature, which was unwilling to despoil itself. I wrote to 
Sister Garnier to have a contract drawn up according to 
my first memorandum. You permitted mc, my God, to 
commit this fault to make mc recognize better your 
protection over mc. 



I SET out after the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin in a 
strange abandonment, unable to give an account of what 
made me set out, leaving my family, which I tenderly 
loved, and without any positive assurance, hoping, how- 
ever, even against hope. I reached the New Catholics at 
Paris, where you worked miracles of providence to conceal 
me. They sent to fetch the notary who had drawn up the 
contract of engagement. When he read it to me I felt so 
strange a repugnance, that it was not possible for me to 
bear it finished, much less to sign it. The notary was 
surprised, but he was still more so when Sister Gamier 
came herself to tell him that there was no necessity for a 
contract of engagement. It was, my God, your good- 
ness alone that managed things in this way, for in my 
then disposition, it seems to me, I would have given the 
preference to Sister Garnier's views over my own. It 
was you, my Lord, who made her thus speak, for she 
has been since much opposed to me, when they wished 
to bind me against my will and by force. You had done 
me the favour, my God, to put my affairs into perfect 
order, so that I was myself surprised at it, and at the 
letters you caused me to write, in which I had hardly 
any part beyond the movement of the hand. And it 

246 MADAME GUTON. [Part II. 

was at this time that it was given me to write by the 
interior spirit, and not by my intellect, which till then 
I had never experienced. So that my manner of writing 
was quite changed, and people were astonished, I wrote 
with such facility. I was not at all astonished ; but what 
was then given me as a sample, has since been given to 
me with much more force and perfection, as I shall tell 
in the sequel. You began to render me unable to write in 
the ordinary human way. 

I had with me two servants, to get rid of whom was 
very difficult, for I did not think of bringing them with 
me ; and if I left them they would have told of my 
departure, and people would have been sent after me, 
as was done when it was known. You so well arranged 
all things, my God, by your providence, that they 
desired to go with me. And I have since clearly seen 
that you had done this only to prevent my being dis- 
covered; for, besides their being of no use to me, they 
very soon after returned to France. I set out from Paris, 
and although I was extremely grieved to leave my younger 
son, the confidence I had in the Holy Virgin, to whom I 
had vowed him, and whom I looked on as his mother, 
calmed all my griefs. I found him in such good hands 
that it seemed to me it would be doing an insult to the 
Queen of heaven to doubt that she was taking a particular 
care of the child. 

I took with me my daughter and two maids to attend 
us both. We set out by water (although I had engaged 
the diligence), in order to escape being found if any one 
was looldng for me. I went to Melun to wait for it. What 
was astonishing was that in the boat, my daughter, with- 
out knowing what she was doing, could not help making 
crosses. She kept a person employed in cutting rushes, 
and then she made them into crosses and quite covered me 
with them. She put more than three hundred on me. I 
let her do it, and I understood interiorly that there was a 

Chap. I.] AUTOBIOGTlArilY. 247 

mystery iu what she was doing. There was then given io 
mc an inward certainty that I was going there only to reap 
crosses, and that this little girl was sowing the Cross for 
mo to gather. Sister Garnier, who saw that whatever they 
did they could not prevent the child from loading mu 
with crosses, said to me, "What this child is doing appears 
to me very mysterious." She said to her, " My little lady, 
put crosses on mo also." She answered, " They are nut fur 
you; they are for my dear mother." She gave her one to 
please her, then she continued putting them on mc. "When 
she had put on a very great number, she had river flowers, 
which were found on the water, given to her, and making 
a wreath with them, she placed it on my head, and said to 
me, "After the Cross you will he cro-^iied." In silence I 
wondered at all this, and I immolated myself to Love as a 
victim to be sacrificed to him. 

Some time after my departure, a nun, who is a true 
saint, and a great friend of mine, related to me a vision 
she had about me. She said she saw my heart in the 
midst of a great number of thorns, so that it was quite 
covered with them, and that our Lord appeared in this 
heart, very well pleased; and she saw that the more 
strongly the thorns pricked, my heart, instead of being 
thereby disfigured, appeared more beautiful, and our Lord 
more pleased. 

At Corbeil, on my way, I saw the Father of whom God 
had made use to draw mc so strongly to his love. He 
approved my design to quit all for our Lord, but he 
thought that I would not be able to get on with the New 
Catholics ; he even told me particular things on the point, 
to make me understand that their spirit, and that by 
which our Lord was conducting me, were almost incom- 
patible. He said to me, "Above all, try that they shall 
not know you are walking by spiritual ways, for that will 
bring down on you persecutions." But, my God, when 
it pleases you to make any one suffer, and he has yielded 

248 MADAME GUYON. [Part II. 

himself into your bands, it is idle to screen one's self and 
take precautions ; it is hard to escape from your provi- 
dence, especially when the soul has no longer any will, and 
her will is passed into yours. Does she not herself strike 
where you strike ? She seems to clothe herself in indig- 
nation against herself. Oh, if this soul could then appear 
to compassionate herself, to pity herself, with what fury of 
love and indignation would she not wish for herself greater 
ills and a more frightful destruction ! King of lovers, 
you have struck against yourself with all the justice 
of a God; this soul, destined to imitate you, and to be 
conformable to you, strikes herself with your justice. 
wonderful thing, unknown to those who have not 
experienced it ! 

"While at Paris I gave the New Catholics all the money 
that I had. I did not reserve a penny for myself, being 
delighted to be poor, after the example of Jesus Christ. I 
brought from my house nine thousand livres, and I gave 
all to the New Catholics. A contract was drawn up for six 
thousand livres as a repayment, which they said they had 
need of ; and as in the sequel they declared that they had 
this money on contract, and I had not reserved it for 
myself by my settlement deed, thinking it would not be 
known, it has been returned to my children, and I have 
lost it ; at which I feel not the least vexation, for poverty 
constitutes my riches. The remainder I gave to the Sisters 
who were with us, both to meet the expenses of the journey, 
and to commence providing furniture. I gave them beside 
that the church ornaments, a chalice, a very beautiful 
sun of silver gilt, silver dishes, a ciboire, and everything 
needed by them. I did not even keep back my linen for 
my use, placing it in the common wardrobe. I had neither 
a locked cash-box nor a purse. Nevertheless, it was said 
that I had carried off large sums from my house, although 
that was very false. I had not even taken any linen but 
what was needed by me for a journey to Paris, for fear of 


rousing suspicion, and lest I should bo discovered if I tried 
to carry away clothes. I had little eagerness for the riches 
of this earth ; on tho contrary, I had more desire to leave 
them than to possess them. Those whom God makes use 
of to torment me, have not hesitated to say that I had 
carried off large sums of money which I had injudiciously 
spent and given to tho relatives of Father La Combe ; but 
that is as false as it is true, that I had not a penny, and 
that when I arrived at Annecy, and a poor man asked alms, 
the inclination I had to give to the poor not being extin- 
guished in my heart, and having nothing whatever, I gave 
him the buttons which fastened the sleeves of my chemise; 
and another time I gave to a poor man, in the name of 
Jesus Christ, a little ring, quite plain, which I wore as a 
token of my marriage with the Child Jesus. 

We joined the diligence at Melun, where I left Sister 
Gamier, and took my place with the other Sisters whom I 
did not know. What is wonderful is that, although tho 
carriages were very fatiguing, and I did not sleep during 
this long journey, while I was then so delicate that the 
loss of sleep used to make me ill, and my daughter, an 
extremely delicate child only five years of age, did not 
sleep either, we nevertheless bore the great fatigue without 
suffering; and this child had not one hour's trouble, 
although she was only three hours in bed each night. You 
alone, my God, know the sacrifices you caused me to 
make, and the joy of my heart to sacrifice to you all 
things. If I had had kingdoms and empires, it seems to 
me I would have given them up with still greater joy to 
show you more my love. my God, is it to give up any- 
thing when we give it up for you ? As soon as we reached 
the inn, I used to go to the church to adore the Holy 
Sacrament, and I remained there until the hour of dinner. 
We held, my Love, you and I, a conversation in the 
carriage (or, rather, you alone in me) which the others 
could not understand, therefore they perceived nothing of 

250 MADAME GUYON. [Part II. 

it ; and the external gaiety I preserved even in the midst of 
the greatest dangers reassured them. I sung songs of joy 
to see myself disengaged from wealth, honour, and the 
embaiTassments of the world. You helped us much by 
your providence, for you protected us in so singular a 
manner that it seemed you were the pillar of fire during 
the night, and the cloud during the day. We traversed an 
extremely dangerous pass between Chambery and Lyons. 
Our carriage was broken at the exit of this dangerous pass ; 
had it happened sooner we should have perished. 

We reached Annecy, the eve of the Magdalen's Day, 1681 ; 
and on the Day of the Magdalen the Bishop of Geneva said 
Mass for us at the tomb of St. Francis de Sales. There I 
renewed my marriage, for I used to renew it every year, 
and, according to my very simple disposition, without 
introducing anything formal or distinct; but you placed 
in my central depth, which was pure and freed from species 
and forms, all that it pleased you should be there. These 
words were impressed on me : "1 will espouse thee in faith, 
I will espouse thee for ever ; " and these others : " You are 
to me a husband of blood." I there honoured the relics of 
St. Francis de Sales, with whom our Lord gave me a 
particular union. I say union, for it appeared to me that 
the soul in God is united with the saints, more or less, 
according as they are more conformed to her ; and it is a 
union of unity, which it pleases our Lord sometimes to 
awake in her for his glory ; and then those saints are 
rendered more intimately present to her in God himself. 
And this awakening is like an intercession of the soul, 
known to the saint and to the soul. It is a request of 
friend to friend in him who unites them all by an immortal 
bond. Ordinarily everything remains hidden with Jesus 
Christ in God. 

We set out from Annecy the same Day of the Magdalen, 
and the next day we went to hear Mass at Geneva, at 
the house of the French Resident. I had much joy in 


communicating ; and it seems to me, my God, that you 
there bound me more strongly to you. I asked of you the 
conversion of this great people. In the evening, late, wo 
reached Gex, where we found only four walls, although the 
Bishop had assured us that there was furniture. Apparently 
he thought so. We slept at the Sisters of Charity, who 
had the kindness to give us their beds. I suffered a pain 
and agony, which can be better experienced than described, 
not so much on my own account, as for my daughter, who 
was visibly declining. I had a great desire to place her 
with the Ursulines at Tonon; and I was vexed with myself 
at not having taken her there in the first instance. Then 
all perceptible faith was taken from me, and a conviction 
remained that I had been mistaken. Pain took such 
possession of my heart that in my bed in secret I could 
not restrain my tears. The next day I said that I wished 
to take my daughter to Tonon, to the Ursulines, until I 
saw how we could arrange ourselves. My design was to 
leave her there. I was strongly opposed, and in a way 
cruel enough, and not honourable. I saw my daughter 
fade and grow thin, and in want of everything. I saw her 
as a victim, whom I had sacrificed by my imprudence. I 
wrote to Father La Combe, praying him to come and see 
me, to take measures thereon, not believing I could 
conscientiously keep her longer in that place. Many days 
passed away before I could have any answer. I was, 
however, very indifferent in the divine will of my God as 
to whether I received help or did not. 

252 MADAME GUYON. [Pabt H. 


Our Lord had pity on my trouble and the deplorable state 
of my daughter, and caused the Bishop of Geneva to write 
to Father La Combe to come and see and console us, and 
that it would oblige him if he made no delay. As soon as 
I saw the Father I was surprised to perceive an interior 
grace, which I may call '* communication," that I had 
never experienced with any one. It seemed to me that an 
influence of grace came from him to me by the very 
inmost of the soul, and returned from me to him, so that 
he experienced the same effect ; but grace so pure, so 
unalloyed, so separate from all sentiment, that it made a 
kind of flux and reflux, and then went to lose itself in the 
Divine and Invisible Unity. There was in it nothing human 
or natural, but all pure spirit. And this union, so pure and 
holy, which has always subsisted and even increased, 
becoming ever more one, has never arrested or occupied 
the soul for a moment out of God, leaving her always in a 
perfect freedom ; union which God alone effects, and which 
can take place only between souls who are united to him ; 
union free from all weakness and all attachment ; union 
which makes one rejoice over, rather than compassionate, 
the sufferings of the other, and the more w^e see ourselves 
overwhelmed wdth crosses and overthrows, separated, 
destroyed, the happier one is ; union which for its sub- 
sistence has no need of bodily presence ; which absence 


does not render more absent, nor prescnco more present ; 
union unknown to any but those who experience it. Ah I 
bad never bad a union of this kind, it appeared to mo then 
quite new, for I bad never even heard that there was such ; 
but it was so peaceable, so removed from all sentiment, 
that I have never bad a doubt but that it was from 
God : for these unions, far from turning away from God, 
bury the soul more deeply in him. The grace which I 
experienced, and which caused this spiritual influence from 
him to me, from me to him, dissipated all my troubles and 
brought me into a profound calm. 

God gave him from the first much openness with mc. 

He told me the mercies which God had shown him, and 

many extraordinary things. I feared much this way of 

illumination. As my way had been by simple faith, and 

not in extraordinary gifts, I did not then understand that 

God wished to use me to withdraw him from the state of 

illumination, and to place him in the way of simple faith. 

These extraordinary things caused me fear at first. I 

dreaded illusion, especially in things which please, relating 

to the future, but the grace which came out from him, and 

which flowed through my soul, reassured me, besides that 

his humility was the most extraordinary I had yet seen ; for 

I saw that he would have preferred the opinion of a little 

child to his own, that he did not cling to anything, and 

that, far from being puffed up, cither by the gifts of God or 

his profound learning, one could not have a lower opinion 

of one's self than he had. It is a gift which God had 

bestowed on him in an eminent degree. He told me I 

should take my daughter to Tonon, and that there she 

would be very well off. He told me at once, after I had 

spoken to him of the internal repugnance I had for the 

manner of life of the New Catholics, that he did not 

believe God required me to join them, that I should remain 

there without an engagement, and that God would let 

me know by the course of his providence what he desired 


of me, but that I should remain until God himself by 
his providence withdrew me from it, or by the same 
providence established me there. He determined to stay 
with us two days, and to say three Masses. He told me 
to ask our Lord to let me know his will. I could neither 
ask anj-thing nor desire to know anything. I continued in 
my simple disposition. I had already commenced waking 
up so as to pray at midnight, but on this occasion I was 
roused up as if a person had awaked me ; and on waking 
these words were suddenly put into m}'' mind with some 
little impetuosity : " It is written of me that I will perform 
your w^ill," and this insinuated itself into my soul with a 
flow of grace, so pure, yet so penetrating, that I have never 
experienced it more sweet, more simple, stronger, or more 
pure. I should remark here that although the then state 
of my soul was permanent in newness of life, that new life 
was not yet in the fixedness it has since been in ; that is 
to say, properly, that it was an opening life and an opening 
day, which goes on increasing and strengthening itself 
to the meridian of glory — day, however, where there is no 
night ; life which fears no longer death in death itself, 
because death has conquered death, and he who has 
suffered the first death will never taste the second death. 

Now, it is well to say here that though the soul bo 
in a state void of movement, and that she participates 
of the unchangeable, without the soul leaving her sphere 
or her heaven, steadfast and motionless, where there is 
neither distinction nor change, God, however, when it 
pleases him, sends from this very central depth certain 
influences which have distinctions, and which make known 
his holy will, or things about to happen; but as this 
comes from the central depth, and not by the intervention 
of the powers, it is certain, and not subject to illusion, 
as are visions and the other matters of which I have 
already spoken. For it should be known that such a 
soul as that I speak of receives all immediately from 

Chap. II.] AUTOIUOQllAPUY. 266 

the central depth, and thence it spreads itself over the 
powers and the senses as may be God's pleasure ; but it 
is not so with other souls who receive mediately: that 
which they receive falls into the powers, and tlience 
reunites in the centre, while the former souls discharge 
themselves from the centre over the powers and tlic senses. 
They let everything pass, without anything making 
impressions cither upon their mind or their heart. 
Moreover, the things which they know or learn, such as 
prophecy and the rest, do not seem to them extraordi- 
nary, as they appear to others. The thing is said quite 
naturally, without knowledge of wliat one says, or why 
one says it, without anything extraordinary. One says and 
w'rites what one does not know, and in saying and writing 
it one sees that they are matters of which one had never 
thought. It is like a person who possesses in his central 
depth an inexhaustible treasure, without even thinking of 
the possession of it. It docs not form part of his riches, 
and he pays no attention to it, but he finds in his central 
depth all that is necessary when he has use for it. The 
past, the present, and the future are there in way of the 
moment, present and eternal — not as prophecy, which 
regards the future as a thing to come ; but in seeing every- 
thing in the present, in way of the eternal moment, in 
God himself; without knowing how he sees and knows; 
with a certain faithfulness in saying things as they arc 
given, without plan or reflection, without thinking whether 
it is of the future or of the present one speaks ; without 
troubling one's self whether the things come to pass or 
not, in one way or the other, whether they have one 
interpretation or another. It is from the central depth 
thus annihilated miracles proceed; it is the Word him- 
self who effects what he says: "He spoke, and they 
were made;" without the individual soul laiowiug wliat 
she says or writes. In writing or speaking, she is en- 
lightened with certainty that it is the word of truth which 

256 MADAME GUYON. [Part II. 

will have its efifect ; as soon as it is done, she thinks no 
more of it, and takes no more interest in it than if it bad 
been spoken or written by another. This is that which 
our Lord in the Gospel has said, ** That the man brings 
from the good treasure of his heart things new and old." 
Since our treasure is God himself, and our heart and will 
is without any reserve entirely passed into him, it is 
there one finds a treasure which is never exhausted ; the 
more one distributes from it, the richer one is. After 
these words had been put into my spirit, " It is written of 
me that I will do your will," I remembered that Father 
La Combe had told me to ask God what he desired of 
me in this country. My recollection was my request ; 
immediately these words were put into my spirit with 
much quickness : ** Thou art Pierre, and on this stone I 
will establish my church ; and as Pierre died on the cross, 
thou shalt die upon the cross." I was convinced this was 
what God wished of me ; but to understand its execution 
was what I took no trouble to know. I was invited to 
place myself on my knees, where I remained until four 
o'clock in the morning in very profound and peaceful 
prayer. I said nothing about it in the morning to Father 
La Combe. He w-ent to say the Mass; he had an 
impulse to say it from the service for dedication of a 
church. I was still more confirmed, and I believed our 
Lord had made him know something of what had passed 
within me. I told him so after the Mass ; he answered 
that I was mistaken. Immediately my mind gave up all 
thought and certainty, thinking no more of it, and 
remained in its ordinary frame, rather entering into that 
which the Father said than into that which he had known. 
The following night I was awaked at the same hour and 
in the same manner as the previous night, and these 
words were put into my mind : " Her foundations are in 
the holy mountains." I was put into the same state, 
which lasted until four in the morning, but I did not 

Chap. II.] AUTOBIOGRArnY. 257 

think at all on what this meant, paying no attention to it. 
The next clay after the Mass the Father told nic thut ho 
had a very great certainty that I was "a stone which 
God destined to he the foundation of a great edifice," but 
he knew no more than I what that edifice was. In whatever 
way the thing is to he, whether His Divine Majesty wishes 
to use me in this life for some design kno\\Ti to him alone, 
or whether he wishes to make me one of the stones of tlio 
celestial Jerusalem, it seems to me that this stone is not 
polished except hy blows of a hammer. Methinks that 
from this time out they have not been spared to it, as will 
be seen in the sequel ; and that our Lord has indeed given 
it the qualities of stone, which are firmness and 
insensibility. I told him what had happened to me in 
the night. 

I brought my daughter to Tonon. This poor child 
conceived a very great friendship for Father La Combe, 
saying that he was the good God's Father. On arriving 
at Tonon, I there found a hermit named Friar Anselm, 
of the most extraordinary holiness that had been known 
for a long time. He was from Geneva, and God had 
brought him out of it in a very miraculous manner at the 
age of twelve years, after having made known to him at 
the age of four years that he would turn Catholic. Ho 
had, with the permission of the Cardinal, then Archbishop 
of Aix in Provence, at nineteen years assumed the habit 
of an Augustinian hermit ; he lived alone with another 
friar in a small hermitage, where they saw no one save 
those who came to visit their chapel. He had been for 
twelve years in this hermitage, eating nothing but vege- 
tables and salt, sometimes with oil ; he fasted continually 
without a moment's relaxation in the twelve years. Thrco 
times a week he fasted on bread and water, never drank 
wine, and ordinarily made only one meal in tweuty-four 
hours. He wore a shirt of coarse hair, made with great 
cords of hair, which reached from top to bottom, and he 

VOL. I. •'' 

258 MADAME GUYON. [Part H. 

lay only on a board. He bad a gift of continual prayer. 
He prayed specially for eigbt bours a day, and said bis 
offices— witb all tbis submissive as a cbild. God bad 
\Yorked tbrougb bim many striking miracles. He came to 
Geneva boping to be able to gain bis motber, but be found 
bcr dead. 

Tbis good bermit bad many intimations of tbe designs 
of God for me and Fatber La Combe ; but God made bim 
see at tbe same time tbat be was preparing strange trials 
for us botb. He knew tbat God destined us botb to belp 
souls. He once during bis prayer, wbicb was all in gifts 
and illumination, saw me on my knees, clotbed in a brown 
mantle, and my bead was cut off, but immediately replaced ; 
and tben I was clotbed in a very wbite robe, witb a red 
mantle, and a crown of flowers was placed on my bead. 
He saw Fatber La Combe cut into two pieces, wbicb were 
soon reunited ; and wbile in bis baud be beld a palm, be 
was stripped of bis clotbes, and reclotbed in tbe wbite 
garment witb tbe red mantle ; after wbicb be saw us botb 
near a well, and tbat we were quencbing tbe tbirst of 
numberless people wlio came to us. 

It seems to me, my God, tbat tbis mysterious vision 
bas already bad its accomplishment iu part, as well in tbe 
divisions be bas suffered, and I also, bowever without pain, 
as in tbe confidence I have, tbat you have stripped bim of 
himself to rcclothe him in innocence, purity, and charity. 
Yes, my God, it appears to me that the love you have put 
into me is altogether pure, disengaged from all self- 
interest, a love which loves its object in himself and for 
himself, without any reference to itself ; it would fear a 
self-regard more than Hell, for Hell without self-love would 
be for it changed into Paradise. Our Lord also has made 
much use of bim and of me to gain souls ; but I do not 
know what design be may have for us in the future. I 
know tbat we are bis without any reserve. A little after 
my arrival at the Ursulines of Tonon, Sister M spoke 


to me with much openness, following the order Father La 
Combe had given her. She told me at once so many 
extraordinary things that I became suspicious, and I 
thought there was illusion in her case ; and I felt angry 
with myself. 

I commenced to feel exceedingly troubled at having 
brought my daughter ; and with regard to her I thought my- 
self indeed an Abraham when Father La Combe accosted me 
with the words, "You are welcome, daughter of Abraham." 
I saw no reason for leaving her there ; and I could still 
less keep her with me, for we had no room, and the httlo 
girls they brought to make Catholics of were all mixed up 
with us, and had dangerous ailments. To leave her there 
also appeared to me madness, considering the language of 
the comitry, where they hardly understood French, and the 
food which she could not take, being quite different from 

I saw her daily grow thin and fade away. This put mo 
in an agony, and I felt as if one was tearing my vitals. 
All the tenderness I had for her sprung up afresh, and I 
regarded myself as her murderer. I experienced what Ilagar 
suffered when she put away from her in the desert her 
son Ishmael, that she might not see him die. It appeared 
to me that though I had been willing to expose myself 
without reason, I ought at least to have spared my 
daughter. I saw the loss of her education, and even of 
her life, inevitable. I did not mention my troubles on this 
head, and the night was the time which gave scope to my 
grief that daily became more violent : because you per- 
mitted, my God, you who have always desired of mo 
sacrifices without reserve, that during the whole time I was 
there, they provided her with nothing which she could tat. 
All that kept her alive were some spoonfuls of bad broth 
which I made her take against her will. I gave her up to 
you, my God, an entire sacrifice ; and it seemed to me 
that, like another Abraham, I was holding the knife to kill 


her. I was not willing to take her back, because I was 
told it was the will of God I should leave her there ; and 
this will of God was for me preferable to everything, even 
the life of my daughter ; besides, she would have been still 
worse off for food at Gex. Our Lord wished me to be 
utterly plunged in bitterness, and to make a sacrifice to 
him without alleviation. 

On one side, he caused me to see the grief of her grand- 
mother if she learned of her death, and that it seemed I 
had taken her away from her merely to kill her ; on the 
other, the reproaches of the family. All her natural gifts 
were like arrows which pierced me. It would be necessary 
to experience what I suffered to understand it. With her 
natural disposition it seemed she would have done wonders 
if educated in France, and that I was depriving her of all 
this, and putting it out of her power to be fit for anything, 
or to find in the future proposals of marriage such as she 
might hope for, and that I could not without sin let her 
die thus. For thirteen days I suffered a trouble almost 
inconceivable : all that I had given up seemed to have cost 
me nothing in comparison with what the sacrifice of my 
daughter cost me. I believe that, my God, you caused 
this to purify the too human attachment I had for her 
natural gifts; for after I had left the Ursulines they 
changed their mode of diet, and gave what was suitable 
for the delicacy of my daughter, so that she recovered her 

Chap. III.] AUTOBIOQRArilY. 261 


As soon as it was known in France that I had gone away 
I was generally condemned. Those \Yho attacked mo most 
severely were the religious, in the world's sense, and 
especially Father La Mothc, who wrote mo that all orthodox 
and pious persons, professional or gentlemen, condemned 
me. To alarm me the more, he told me that my mother- 
in-law, on whom I relied for the property of my children 
and for my younger son, had fallen into second childhood, 
and that I was the cause of it ; this was, however, utterly 
false. Although there were times when my trouble was 
excessive, I let nothing of it be seen outwardly. I shut 
myself up as much as I could, and there I allowed myself 
to be penetrated by the pain, which appeared to me very 
profound. I bore it very passively, without being able, or 
even wishing, to alleviate it ; on the contrary, my pleasure 
was to allow myself to be devoured, without even wishing 
to understand it. This pain was as peaceable as it was 
penetrating. Once I desired to open the New Testament 
to console myself, but I was interiorly hindered ; so that I 
remained in silence, without doing anything, allowing 
myself to be devoured by the pain. It appeared to me 
that I then commenced to bear troubles in a divine 
manner, and that from this time forward, without any 
sentiment, the soul could be at the same time very happy 
and very pained, very afflicted and beatified. It was not 

262 MADAME GUYON. [Part II. 

at all in the same way I bad borne my first gi-iefs, nor as I 
bad borne tbe deatb of my fatber. For tben tbe soul was 
buried in peace, and in a peace tbat was deligbtful, but 
sbe was not delivered over to pain ; what she suffered was 
only a shock to nature, a weight of delightful pain. Here 
it is quite different ; the same soul is delivered entirely to 
suffering, and she bears it with a divine strength ; and this 
strength causes the soul to be divided without division 
from her entire self, so that her unchangeable happiness 
does not prevent the most severe suffering. But these 
sufferings are impressed on her by God himself as in Jesus 
Christ ; he sufifered as God and man ; he suffered in the 
strength of a God and in the weakness of a man ; he was 
a blessed God and a Man of sufferings ; in short, God- 
Man, suffering and rejoicing, without the beatitude 
diminishing anything of the pain, or the pain interrupting 
or altering the perfect beatitude. 

I answered all the violent letters they wrote me accord- 
ing to the interior spirit's dictates, and my answers were 
found very suitable ; they were even much appreciated, so 
that, God allowing, the complaints and thunders soon 
changed into praise. Father La Mothe seemed to change 
his mind, and even to esteem me, but this did not last 
long : self-interest was what made him act so ; but when 
he found that an annuity, which he fancied I would give 
him, was not provided, he suddenly changed. Sister 
Garnicr from the first changed, and declared herself against 
me ; whether it was merely a pretence or a real change. 
As to my body and my health, I took no trouble about it. 
You gave me, my God, too much grace, for I have been 
two months without almost any sleep, and the food which 
we had was little suited to support me. The meat they 
served us was rotten and full of maggots, for in that 
country the meat was killed on Thursday for use on Friday 
and Saturday, and owing to the great heat, it was decayed 
by Sunday ; so that what I once would have looked at with 


horror was my food. Nothing afflicted mo then, for in 
giving mo life you had given mo capacity for everything. 
It seems to me I could do anything, without the necessity 
of doing it. I could do nothing, without at all minding. 
It is in you, my God, that one recovers with increase all 
one has lost for you. 

That intellect which I once thought I had lost in a 
strange stupidity, was restored to mo with inconceivable 
additions. I was astonished at it myself, and I found that 
there was nothing for which it was not able, and in which 
it did not succeed. Those who saw me said I had a 
prodigious intellect. I knew well that I had but littlo 
intellect, but that in God my mind had taken a quality 
which before it was without. I experienced, it seemed to 
me, something of the state in which the apostles were after 
having received the Holy Spirit. I knew, I understood, I 
comprehended, I was capable of everything, and I did not 
know where I had acquired this intellect, this knowledge, 
this intelligence, this power, this facility, nor whence it 
had come to me. I experienced that I had all kinds of 
treasures, and that I was not in want of anything what- 
ever ; but I did not know whence it was come to me. I 
recollected that fine passage of Wisdom, which says, " All 
riches are come to me with her." When Jesus Christ, 
eternal Wisdom, is formed in the soul after the death of 
the sinful man, Adam, and this soul is truly entered into 
newness of hfe, she finds that in Jesus Christ, eternal 
Wisdom, all riches are communicated to her. 

Some time after my arrival at Gcx the Bishop of 
Geneva came to see us. I spoke to him with the openness 
and impetuosity of the Spirit which guided me. He was so 
convinced of the Spirit of God in me that he could not 
refrain from saying so. He was even affected and touched 
by it, opened his heart to me about what God desired of 
him, and how he had been turned aside from fidelity and 
grace ; for he is a good prelate, and it is the greatest pity 

264 MADAME GUYON. [Part II. 

in the world that he is so weak in allowing himself to be 
led by others. "When I have spoken to him, he always 
entered into what I said, acknowledging that what I 
said had the character of truth ; and this could not be 
otherwise, since it was the Spirit of truth that made me 
speak to him, without which I was only a stupid creature ; 
but as soon as the people who wished to rule him and 
could not endure any good that did not come from them- 
selves, spoke to him, he allowed himself to be influenced 
against the truth. It is this weakness, joined to some 
others, which has hindered him from doing all the good in 
his diocese that otherwise he would have done. After I had 
spoken to him he told me that he had had it in mind to give 
me as director Father La Combe ; that he was a man 
enlightened of God, who understood well the ways of the 
spirit, and had a singular gift for calming souls — these are 
his own words — that he had even told him, the Bishop, 
many things regarding himself, which he knew to be very 
true, since he felt in himself what the Father said to him. 
I had great joy that the Bishop of Geneva gave him to me 
as director, seeing that thereby the external authority was 
joined to the grace which seemed already to have given 
him to me by that union and effusion of supernatural 

The wakefulness and fatigues, together with the in- 
different climate of this country, caused me a great 
pulmonary inflammation, with fever and a retention in the 
stomach of all the water I drank, which caused me violent 
pains. The doctors thought me in danger, for besides that, 
I had taken many remedies which I did not pass off. You 
permitted, my God, this malady doubtless both as an 
exercise for my patience (if that can be called patience 
which costs nothing) and to glorify yourself in the striking 
miracle which you performed through your servant. As I 
was very weak, I could not raise myself in the bed without 
falling in a faint ; and I could not remain in bed, for I was 


bursting from tho waters and remedies I could not get rid 
of. God allowed that the Sisters neglected mo utterly, 
particularly the ono in cliargo of the housekeeping, who 
did not give mo what was necessary for my life. I had not 
a shilling to provide for myself, for I had reserved nothing, 
and the Sisters received all the money which came to me 
from France — a very large sum. Thus I had the advantage 
of practising a little poverty, and hcing in want with those 
to whom I had given everything. 

They wrote to Father La Comhe to come and take my 
confession. He very charitably walked all night, although 
he had eight long leagues ; but he used always to travel so, 
imitating in this, as in everything else, our Lord Jesus 
Christ. As soon as he entered the house, without my know- 
ing it, my pains were alleviated. And when he came into 
my room and blessed me, with his hands on my head, I 
was perfectly cured, and I evacuated all tho water, so that 
I was able to go to the Mass. The doctors were so 
surprised that they did not know how to account for my 
cure ; for, being Protestants, they were unable to recognize 
a miracle. They said it was madness, that my sickness 
was in the imagination, and a hundred absurdities, such as 
might be expected from people otherwise vexed by tho 
knowledge that we had come to withdraw from error those 
who were willing. 

A violent cough, however, remained, and those Sisters of 
themselves told me to go to my daughter, and take milk for 
a fortnight, after which I might return. As soon as I set 
out, Father La Combe, who was returning and was in the 
same boat, said to me, " Let your cough cease." It at 
once stopped, and although a furious gale came down upon 
the lake which made me vomit, I coughed no more at all. 
This storm became so violent that the waves were on the 
point of capsizing the boat. Father La Combe made the 
sign of the cross over the waves, and although tho billows 
became more disturbed, they no longer came near, but 

266 MADAME GUYON. [Part II. 

broke more than a foot distant from the boat — a fact 
noticed both by the boatmen and those in the boat, who 
looked upon him as a saint. Thus I arrived at Tonon at 
the Ursuhnes, perfectly cured, so that instead of adopting 
remedies as I had proposed, I entered on a retreat which I 
kept for twelve days. 

It was then I made perpetual vows of chastity, poverty, 
and obedience ; to obey without resistance whatever I be- 
lieved to be the will of God and the Chm-ch, and to honour 
Jesus Christ, the Child, in the way he wished. I admit 
that I do not know why nor how I made these vows. I 
did not find in myself anything to make a vow, and it 
seemed to me that I was so entirely yours, my God, that 
I did not know where to find that which I vowed to you. 
I understood at the same time that the end of the vow 
and its consummation was given to my soul as well in- 
teriorly as exteriorly; that the soul, being in her entirety 
God's without reserve, without self-regard, without interest, 
had the perfect chastity of love, since she was even passed 
into this same love. It appeared to me that you, my 
God, had endowed me with the perfect poverty, by the 
utter stripping you had effected on me as well interiorly 
as exteriorly, leaving me nothing of *' the own." As to 
obedience, my will was so entirely lost in yours, that not 
only it found no resistance, but it had not even a repug- 
nance ; the same was its condition as regards the Church. 
And as to honouring the Childhood of Jesus Christ, I did not 
know by what means ; for that which was proposed to me 
did not depend on me, but on you, my God; and it 
appeared to me that the honour which I paid him was to 
bear himself in his states. I, however, made all these 
vows because I was told to make them, and I followed 
without choice, without inclination, and without repug- 
nance, what I was told to do ; and you have drawn from 
it your glory in a manner known to you alone, the effect of 
which soon appeared ; for you took a new possession 


of my exterior, to make me the playtliinp; of your pro- 
vidence, as you have since done. You despoiled me of 
my riches by a new poverty, and you deprived me of 
dwelling or place on earth, so that I have not where to rcKt 
my head. As to obedience, you made me practise it at 
one time, as will be seen, with the submissiveness of a 
child; but also how much have you obeyed me yourself; 
or rather, you, my God, have rendered my wills wonder- 
ful, causing them to pass into you. I seem to understand 
clearly enough the meaning of that passage of David, 
"You have made my wills marvellous." This is meant 
literally of David in Jesus Christ, since Jesus Christ, 
though Son of David after the flesh, was Son of God by 
his eternal generation ; being Son of God, ho had only a 
single will, which is God. This did not hinder his having 
his human will also, but so lost in the divine that it was 
entirely at one with it ; and this will is the end of all 
things, and that which works miracles, as Jesus Christ 
says, speaking as man, *' So it is, my Father, because you 
have willed it." But besides this sense, David himself 
experienced that which it seems to me I experience, my 
God, by your grace, which is, that when by the destruction 
of ourselves we are passed into God, and returned to our 
source, our will is made one with that of God, according to 
the prayer of Jesus Christ, the effect of which the soul 
experiences : " My Father, that they all may be one, as we 
are one; that they all may be perfected in one;" which 
takes place by the loss of the soul in God, when all becomes 
one in unity of principle — the end for which we are created. 
In this unity the will of the soul so transforms itself into 
that of God as only to will that which God causes it to will, 
or rather, what he himself wills. Oh, it is then that this 
will is made wonderful, as well because it is made the will 
of God, the greatest of wonders, and its end, as that it 
works wonders in God; where, as soon as God causes 
it to will anything, since it is he who wills in it, this 

268 MADAME GUYON. [Part II. 

will has its effect ; hardly has it willed, and the thing is 

It will be said, But Nvhy so many overthrows, so many 
cruelties inflicted by creatures on these i^ersons ? If they 
have so much power, they should deliver themselves from 
them. They do not feel even the will to be delivered from 
them ; and if they did, and it was not answered, it would 
be a will of the flesh, or the will of the human being, not 
the will of God. For although the soul be altogether lost 
in God, there is an animal will which the soul well knows 
to be no true will, but an instinct of the brute, which 
pursues what is agreeable to it, and flies from what gives it 
pain ; but as to will, that is a different thing, and so little 
of it has the soul that if you ask her, "What do you wish ? 
she would leave God decide for her; and though one should 
cut her into a thousand pieces, she could only say, " I 
consent, if it is the will of God." 

As to the Church, what have you not given me for her 
in that which you have caused me to write ? Have you 
not even communicated to me in a singular manner her 
spii'it — a spirit holy and indivisible, a motive spirit, a 
spirit of truth, a spirit simple and upright ? 

And as to that of the Holy Child Jesus, good God, to 
what a degree have I experienced its effects ! Have you 
not placed me in a state of wonderful childishness ? And 
have I not borne it in a singular manner ? To honour 
Jesus, the Child, was for me to bear the Child Jesus Christ 
as he has willed me to bear him many times, and many of 
his states, as will be seen in the sequel. This digression 
will be of no small use for the remainder of what I have 
to write. 

I used to get up every night at midnight, and I had no 
need of an alarum, for by your goodness, my God, as 
long as you desired it of me, I always woke sufficiently 
before midnight, to be up at that hour ; and when through 
distrust or thoughtlessness I had set my alarum in the 

Chap. III.] AUTOBIOGRArnY. 209 

morning, I was never awakened. This led me to abandon 
myself more to your guidance, my God, for I saw you 
had over me the care of a father and a husband. When I 
had any indisposition, and my body needed rest, you used 
not to awake me ; but at that time, even sleeping, I folt a 
singular possession of you. For some years I had only a 
half sleep ; my soul was awake to you with the more force 
as sleep seemed to withdraw her attention from everything 
else. Our Lord also made known to many persons that 
he destined me to bo the mother of a great people, but 
a people simple and childlike. They understood these 
intimations literally, and thought that it related to some 
new foundation or society ; but it appears to me that it 
means nothing but the persons whom God has willed I 
should afterwards gain for him, and to whom he has in his 
goodness willed that I should act as a mother, giving them 
the same union with me that children have with a mother, 
but a union much more strong and more inward, and 
giving me for them all that was necessary, that they might 
walk in the way by which God was guiding them, as I 
shall explain hereafter, when I speak of this state of 

270 MADAME GUYON. [Part II. 


Before sj^eaking of what remains for me to write (wliich, 
if I had anything of my natural selfhood, I would gladly 
suppress, as well owing to the difficulty of explaining 
myself, as that there are few souls able to appreciate a 
com-se of guidance so little known and so little understood 
that I have never read of anything like it) I will yet say 
something of the inner disposition I was then in, as far as 
I can make it intelligible — a matter of no small difficulty 
owing to its extreme simplicity. If this is of use to you, 
who desire to be among the number of my children ; and 
if it is useful to my children in more thoroughly destroy- 
ing self, and in leading them to allow God to glorify 
himself in them in his manner, not in theirs, I shall find 
my trouble well repaid ; and if there is anything which 
they do not understand, let them truly die to themselves, 
and they will soon have a more powerful experience of it 
than I could give them ; for description never docs come 
up to experience. After I had emerged from the state of 
al3Jectness of which I have spoken, I understood how a 
state, which had appeared to me so criminal, and which 
was so only in my idea, had purified my soul, taking from 
her all selfhood. As soon as my mind was enlightened 
on the truth of that state, my soul was placed in an 
immense freedom. I recognized the difference between 
the graces which had preceded that state and those which 


have succeedecl it. Previously cvcrythinp; was collected 
and concentrated within, and I possessed God in my centre, 
and in the inmost of my soul; but afterwards I was 
possessed of him in a manner so vast, so pure, and so 
immense, that nothing can equal it. Formerly God was, 
as it were, enclosed in me, and I was united to him in my 
centre ; but afterwards I was submerged in the sea itself. 
Before, the thoughts and views were lost, but in a way 
perceived, though very slightly; the soul let them go some- 
times, which is yet an act ; but afterwards they had, as it 
were, entirely disappeared, in a manner so bare, so pure, 
so lost that the soul had no action of her own, however 
simple and delicate — at least, which could rise into con- 

The powers and the senses are purified in a wonder- 
ful manner : the mind is of a surprising limpidity ; 1 
was sometimes astonished that not a thought appeared 
in it. That imagination, once so troublesome, gives nu 
longer any trouble whatsoever; there is no longer em- 
barrassment, nor disturbance, nor occupation of the 
memory ; everything is naked and limpid, and God makes 
the soul know and think whatever he pleases, without 
irrelevant species any longer inconveniencing the mind. 
This is of very great purity. It is the same in the case of 
the will, which, being totally dead to all its spiritual 
appetites, has no longer any taste, leaning, or tendency ; 
it remains empty of all human inclination, natural or 
spiritual. It is this which enables God to bend it where 
he pleases, and how he pleases. 

This vastness, which is not bounded by anything what- 
ever, however simple, increases day by day, so that it 
seems that this soul, in sharing the qualities of her 
Spouse, shares especially his immensity. Formerly one 
was, as it were, drawn and shut up within ; afterwards I 
experienced that a hand far more powerful than the first 
drew me out of myself, and plunged me, without view, or 

272 MADAME GUYON. [Part IT; 

knowledge, in God, in a way wbicli ravished me; and the 
more distant the soul thought herself from this state, 
the more ravished she was to find it. How sweet, then, is 
it to this soul, which is rather comprehended of it than 
comprehends it. 

At the commencement of this state there happened to 
me a thing which I do not know how to name. My prayer 
was of a nakedness and simplicity beyond conception, and 
yet of an inexplicable depth. I was, as it were, held up 
high out of myself, and what particularly surprised me 
was, that my head felt as if violently lifted up. This 
was all the more unusual, because formerly its first 
movements were quite in the opposite direction, since I 
was quite concentrated. I believe that God wished me to 
have this experience at the commencement of the new life 
(which was so powerful, although very sweet, that my 
body fainted away) — I believe, I say, that our Lord per- 
mitted that to enable me to understand for the benefit of 
other souls, this passage of the soul into God ; for after 
it had lasted with me some days, I no longer perceived 
this violence, although I have always since experienced 
that my prayer is no longer in me in the way that I 
formerly experienced it, when I used to say, " I carry in 
me the prayer that I offer to the God of my life." It 
will be difficult to understand what I wish to say without 
having experienced it. When I went to confession, I 
could hardly speak, not from internal recollection, nor 
as I have described when I was at the commencement; 
it was like an immersion. This is a word which I use 
without knowing if it is suitable. I was plunged down 
and raised up. Once, when at confession to Father La 
Combe at Gex, I felt this elevation so strong that I 
thought my body was about to be raised from the earth. 
Our Lord made use of it to let me grasp what that 
flight of the spirit is, which raised the bodies of some 
saints to a great height, and the difference there is between 


that and the loss of the soul in God. Boforc ;:;oinf; on 
with the events which happened to me, 1 will say some- 
thiug about this. 

The flight of the spirit is far more nohlo than tho 
simple fainting away of ecstasy, although almost always 
the flight of the spirit causes weakness to the body, God 
drawing powerfully the soul, not in her centre, l>ut in 
himself, in order to make her pass there, this soul not 
being yet sufficiently purified to pass into God without 
violence ; a thing which can be brought about only after 
the mystical decease, where tho soul vcrital^ly goes out 
of herself to pass into her Divine Object, which I call 
decease — that is to say, passage from one thing to another. 
That is indeed the happy Passover for the soul, and pass- 
age into tho promised land. This spirit, which is created 
to be united to its principle, has such an impulse to return 
to it, that if it was not stopped by a continual miracle, it 
would, by its motive-power, carry the body wherever it 
wished, owing to its impetuosity and its nobleness ; but 
God has given it an earthly body as counter-weight. This 
spirit, then, created to be immediately united to its prin- 
ciple, feeling itself drawn by its Divine Object, tends to it 
with extreme violence, so that God, suspending for a time 
the power which the body has to keep back the spirit, it 
follows with impetuosity ; but as it is not sufficiently puri- 
fied to pass into God, it returns gradually to itself, and tho 
body reassuming gradually its quality, it returns to earth. 
The saints who have been most perfected in this life have 
not had anything of all this, and even some of the saints 
to whom it has happened, have lost it at the close of their 
lives, remaining simple and common like others, bccauso 
they had in reality and permanence that which formerly 
they had merely as samples during the elevation of their 

It is, then, certain that the soul, by death to her- 
self, passes into her Divine Object, and this is what I 

VOL. I. T 

274 MADAME GUYON. [Part II. 

experienced ; and I found that the further I advanced, the 
more my spirit lost itself in its Sovereign, who drew it to 
him more and more ; and he willed at the commencement 
I should know this for the benefit of others, not for myself. 
Daily this spirit lost itself more, and its principle attracted 
it continually more, until, owing to this drawing, it was so 
withdrawn from itself, that it lost itself completely from 
view, and no longer perceived itself. But the same Love 
which drew it to him brightened and purified it, that it 
might pass into him and be then transformed into himself. 
In the commencement of the new life I saw clearly that 
the soul was united to God without means or medium, but 
she was not completely lost in him. Each day she lost 
herself there, as one sees a river which loses itself in the 
ocean, at first unite with it, then flow into it, but so that 
the river may for a time be distinguished from the sea, 
until at last it gradually is transformed into the sea itself, 
which, while little by little communicating its qualities, 
changes it so entirely into itself, that it becomes one and 
the same sea with it. I have experienced the same in my 
soul, how God gradually makes her lose herself in him, 
and communicates to her his qualities, drawing her away 
from everything she has of the " own.'" 

At the commencement of the new life I committed 
faults ; and these faults, which would not have appeared 
anything, on the contrary, would have been virtues in a 
different state, were little assertions of the selfhood, light, 
and on the surface — a haste, a slight emotion, but as slight 
as possible. I experienced at once that this raised a 
partition between God and my soul ; it was like a speck of 
dust, but as this was only on the surface, the partition 
appeared to me finer than a spider's web. And then he 
willed me to go clear myself from it by confession, or else 
he himself purified me from it ; and I saw clearly this 
partition, which was like a veil that did not break the 
union nor alter it, but covered it, and this slight partition 



made noticeable more of distinction between the Spouse 
and the Bride. I do not know if I make myself understood. 
The soul suffered fi-om this little partition, but in a 
peaceable manner; she saw that she could indeed erect 
the partition, but could not take it away. Little by little 
all partition was lost, and the fewer and more delicate the 
partitions, the more union was lost in Unity, until at last 
there was only one where there had been two, and the soul 
lost herself so utterly that she could no longer di.stinguish 
herself from her Beloved, nor see him. It is that which 
caused her trouble in the sequel. As to her confession, 
she was astonished that she knew not what to say, that 
she no longer found anything ; although one would think 
she must commit more faults, owing to the liberty sho 
had to speak, talk, and act, which formerly she had not ; 
but that no longer troubles her, nor is any more regarded 
as a fault. An inconceivable innocence, unknown and 
incomprehensible to those who are still shut up in them- 
selves, is her life. But I must resume where I have 
broken off. 

Before I arrived at this state, being at the confessional, 
I felt myself so powerfully drawn out of myself, that my 
body became faint, the perspiration covered my face. I 
sat down, but perceiving that this increased in a delicious 
manner — very pure and spiritual, however — I withdrew. A 
shudder passed through me from head to foot; I could 
neither speak nor cat the whole day, and from that 
moment, or rather, that operation, which lasted three days, 
my soul was much more lost in her Divine Object, although 
not altogether. The joy the soul then possessed is so 
great, that she experiences the words of the royal 
prophet : " All those who are in you. Lord, are like 
persons ravished with joy," but the joy is that it appears 
to the soul that it will never be taken away. It seems 
that those words of our Lord are addressed to her : " None 
shall take away your joy." She is, as it were, plunged 

276 :MADAME GUYON. [Pakt II. 

in a river of peace, and is so penetrated with it that 
she is all peace. Her prayer is continual; nothing 
can prevent her praying and loving. She experiences 
very really these words: "I sleep, but my heart is 
awake," for she experiences that sleep does not prevent 
the Spirit praying within her. ineflfahle happiness, 
who would ever have thought that a poor soul, which 
believed herself in the utmost need, could find in need 
itself a happiness equal to that she tastes, without tasting 
it! It is not that she does not sometimes experience 
troubles, which take away even the appetite, and the 
body, which is not accustomed to this, is quite languishing ; 
but this trouble is so sweet and peaceable that one cannot 
distinguish whether it is a sweet trouble, or an afflictive 
sweetness. Daily the soul perceives her capacity increase 
and grow larger, and what astonishes her is that the light 
of this state augments the state which she previously 
possessed without recognizing it. 

happy poverty, happy loss, happy nothingness, which 
gives no less than God himself in his immensity, no longer 
adjusted in the limited manner of the creature, by whom 
he is no longer possessed, but which he entirely possesses, 
drawing it continually more from itself to sink it in him ! 
The soul then knows that all the states of visions, 
revelations, assurances are rather obstacles than aids to 
this state, which is far above them ; for the soul accus- 
tomed to supports has difficulty in losing them, and she 
cannot reach this without that loss. Then all intelligence 
is given without other view than simple faith. And it is 
here are found true those words of John of the Cross : 
" When I have not wished to possess anything "—through 
self-love—" everything has been given me without going 
after it." happy rotting of the grain of wheat, which 
makes it produce fruit a hundred-fold ! The soul is then so 
passive both as regards goods and ills that it is astonishing. 
Although before she seemed to be so to a great degree, it 


is not here the same, for here 8he is strengthened in a 
surprising manner. She receives the one and the other 
without any movement of her own, letting them flow by 
and perish as they come. I do not know if I speak correctly ; 
for that passes as if it did not touch her at all. 

After I made my retreat at the Ursulines of Tonon, I 
returned by Geneva, and having no other means of 
travelling, the Eesident lent me a horse. As I did not 
know how to use this means of conveyance, I made Romo 
difficulty, but they assured me it was very gentle, and I 
resolved to make the attempt. There was a kind of farrier 
present, who, regarding me with haggard eyes, as soon as 
I was mounted, struck the horse upon the croup. It made 
a frightful bound, and threw me to the earth with such 
force that they thought I was killed. I fell upon ray 
temple. I ought certainly to have been killed, for the bono 
of the cheek was broken in two, and I had two teeth 
knocked in. In my fall I was upheld by an invisible 
hand. Nevertheless, I remounted the best I could on 
another horse which they gave me to finish my journey, 
and my servant man placed himself beside me to hold me 
up. But a surprising thing happened ; while on the road 
something was forcibly pushing me on the same side on 
which I had fallen off, and although I leant with all my 
strength to the other side, and I was held on firmly enough, 
I could not resist what was pushing mo. I was every 
moment in danger of being killed, but quite content to see 
myself at the mercy of the divine providence. I at once 
understood it was the Devil, but I w\is quite confident he 
could do me no hurt but what my Master allowed him. 

My relatives, after a slight attempt, left me in quiet 
at Gex. People even began to esteem me much, and as 
my miraculous cure had been written about to I'aris, it 
made a great sensation. You permitted it, my God, 
that I might fall the lower from the height to which you 
had elevated me. Almost all the persons then in repute for 

278 MADAME GUYON. [Part II. 

holiness wrote to me. The Demoiselles of Paris, who were 
renowned for good works, congratulated me. I received 
letters from Madame de Lamoignon and another lady, who 
was so pleased with my answer that she sent one hundred 
pistoles for our House, and told me when we were in want 
of money I had only to write to her, and she would send 
me whatever I wanted. At Paris they talked only of the 
sacrifice I had made. All approved and praised my action, 
so that they wanted an account of it printed, together with 
the miracle which had taken place. I do not know who 
prevented it. From this we may see the inconstancy of 
the creature ; for the very journey which then hrought me 
such praises is the same which furnished the pretext for 
such a strange condemnation. 




My relatives made no eflbrfc to bring me back. The first 
thing they proposed to mc a month after my arrival at 
Gex was not only to relinquish my wardship, but also 
to give all my property to my children, reserving only an 
annuity for myself. Although the proposal, coming from 
persons who, as the sequel will show, had regard only for 
their own interests, ought to have appeared to me harsh, it 
by no means did so. I had neither friends nor advice. I 
did not know whom to ask as to the mode of eflfecting it ; 
for as to willingness, I was perfectly ready. It seemed to 
me I had thus the means of accomplishing my vow and 
my extreme desire to be conformed to Jesus Christ, poor, 
naked, stripped of everything. It was necessary to send a 
power of attorney, which they had drawn up. Clauses 
which were inserted Our Lord did not allow me to notice, 
and I, believing it honestly prepared, signed. It was 
provided that when my children all died, I should not 
inherit my own property, but it was to pass to collaterals. 
There were other matters also equally to my disadvantage. 
Although what I reserved for myself was enough for the 
place where I then was, it is hardly sufficient to support 
me elsewhere. I gave up then my property, that I might 
be conformed to Jesus Christ, with more joy than those 
who demanded it of me could have from its possession. It 
is a thing which I have never either repented or regretted. 

280 MADAME GUYON. [Part II. 

my God, what pleasure to lose all and to quit all for 
j'ou ! ** Love of poverty, kingdom of tranquillity." 

I have forgotten to say that at the close of the state of 
wretchedness and trouble, when I was ready to enter on 
newness of life, our Lord enlightened me to see that the 
external crosses came from him ; so that I could not have 
any grudge against the persons who brought them on me — 
on the contrary, I felt a tender compassion for them, and 

1 was more troubled from those I caused them innocently 
than at those they caased me. I had experienced some- 
thing of the kind at intervals during my husband's life ; 
but it was not established in me as then, and as it has 
since been. I saw that those persons feared you too much, 
my God, to treat me as they did, if they had known it. I 
saw your hand therein, and I felt the trouble they suffered 
from the contrariety of their temper. After the accident 
which befell me in my fall from the horse, which so injured 
me that I spat blood that came from the brain, and for 
eight days it also came from my nose (which, through j'our 
goodness, my God, had no permanent consequence), 
the Devil commenced to declare himself more openly my 
enemy, and to break loose against me. One night when I 
least thought of it, he presented himself to my mind in a 
way so monstrous and terrifying that nothing could be 
more so ; only a face was visible by means of a bluish light. 
I do not know if the flame itself composed this horrible 
face, for it was so mixed up and passed so quickly that I 
could not well distinguish. My soul remained unmoved 
and untroubled, understanding that it was the Devil. 
The senses were slightly alarmed, but as for the soul, she 
remained firm and immovable, without any motion of her 
own, and did not even allow the body to make the sign of 
the cross ; because although this would have driven away 
the Devil for the moment, it would have shown I was 
afraid of him, or that I knew it was he. This way of 
despising is far more distasteful to him, so he never 


again appeared in that way ; but ho got into Kuch a rage 
that every night, as I got up at midnight, he used to como 
at that hour and made a terrible knocking in my room. 
When I lay down it was still worse ; ho shook my bed for a 
quarter of an hour at a time. Then he used to go iit the 
paper window-panes, which he broke ; and every morning 
as long as this lasted the panes were found broken. I 
had no fear, not even a shiver in the senses. I used to get 
up and light my candle at a lamp which I kept lighted in 
my room, for I had accepted the ollice of sacristan, and 
the duty of waking the Sisters at the hour they should 
rise, ringing the " Aves; " and in spite of my indisposition 
I never failed to wake them or to be the first at all the 
duties. I made use of my little light to look all over the 
room, and at the window-panes at the very time the Devil 
was knocking more loudly than usual. As he saw I was 
not afraid of anything, he went off on a sudden, and 
did not attack me any more in person ; but he did so by 
stirring up men against me, and this succeeded better for 
him, for he found them ready to do what he suggested, 
and to do it with the more zeal as they regarded it as a 
good deed. 

One of the Sisters I had brought, who was a very 
beautiful girl, became connected with an ecclesiastic who 
had authority in this place. He inspired her from the 
first with an aversion to me, judging well that if she had 
confidence in me, I would not advise her to allow his 
frequent visits. She undertook a retreat. I begged her not 
to enter on it until I was there; for it was the time- 
that I was making my own. This ecclesiastic was very 
glad to let her make it, in order to get entu-ely into her 
confidence, for it would have served as a pretext for his 
frequent visits. The iiishop of Geneva had assigned 
Father La Combe as director of our House without my 
asking, so that it came purely from God. I then begged 
this girl, as Father La Combe was to conduct the retreats. 

282 liTADAME GUYON. [Part II. 

she would wait for him. As I was already commencing to 
get an influence over her mind, she yielded to me against 
her own inclination, which was willing enough to make 
it under that ecclesiastic. I began to speak to her of 
prayer, and to cause her to offer it. Our Lord therein 
gave her such blessing that this girl, in other respects very 
discreet, gave herself to God in earnest and with all her 
heart. The retreat completed the victory. Now, as she 
apparently recognized that to connect herself with that 
ecclesiastic was something imperfect, she was more 
reserved. This much displeased the worthy ecclesiastic, 
and embittered him against Father La Combe and me, 
and this was the source of all the persecutions that befell 
me. The noise in my room ceased when that commenced. 
This ecclesiastic, who heard confession in the House, 
no longer regarded me with a good eye. He began secretly 
to speak of me with scorn. I knew it, but said nothing to 
him, and did not for that cease confessing to him. There 
came to see him a certain monk who hated Father La 
Combe in consequence of his regularity. They formed an 
alliance, and decided that they must drive me out of the 
House, and make themselves masters of it. They set in 
motion for this purpose all the means they could find. 
The ecclesiastic, seeing himself supported, no longer kept 
any bounds. They said I was stupid, that I had a silly 
air. They could judge of my mind only by my air, for 
I hardly spoke to them. This went so far that they made 
a sermon out of my confession, and it circulated through the 
whole diocese. They said that some persons were so fright- 
fully proud that in place of confessing gross sins, they con- 
fessed only peccadillos ; then they gave a detail, word for 
word, of everything I had confessed. I am willing to believe 
that this worthy priest was accustomed only to the con- 
fessions of peasants, for the faults of a person in the state 
which I was in astonished him, and made him regard what 
were really faults in me, as fanciful ; for otherwise 


assuredly he would not have acted in such a maniur. I 
still accused myself, however, of a sin of my past life, but 
this did not content him, and I knew he made a great 
commotion because I did not accuse myself of more notaljlo 
sins. I wrote to Father La Combo to know if I could con- 
fess past sins as present, in order to satisfy this worthy 
man. He told me, no ; and that I should take great care 
not to confess them except as passed, and that in confession 
the utmost sincerity was needed. 

My manner of life was such that I liad very few oppor- 
tunities of committing faults, for I took not the least part 
in the affairs of the House, leaving the Sisters to dispose of 
the funds as they pleased, persuaded as I was that they 
made good use of them. A little after coming there I 
received a sum of eighteen hundred livres, which one of 
my friends lent me to finish our furnishing, and which I 
repaid on settling my property ; they received this also. 
They managed as well as they could, and were good 
economists, but without experience, and they were without 
what was necessary for an establishment. I took no part 
in anything, except to perform my duty of sacristan, and 
to assist at all the offices, which we repeated — the Sister I 
have spoken of and I ; there were only us two to repeat 
the offices, and we did it with as much exactitude as if we 
were many, and, with exception of meals and recreation, I 
remained all day shut up in my room. I let them receive 
and return all visits, and took no share therein. All I did 
was to speak an occasional word to those who were in 
seclusion, with a view to becoming Catholics ; and our 
Lord gave such a blessing to what I said that we saw some 
whom previously they knew not what to do with, rclisli 
God in a wonderful manner, and acquire an incredible 
affection for remaining in the church. Living in this way, 
I had no opportunities for sinning. 

This worthy gentleman gained over one of the Sisters, 
who had a weak mind— it was the one who was house- 

284 MADAME GUYON. [Part II. 

keeper — whereby they commenced causing me a few 
crosses. Some days before these persecutions were set on 
foot, at midnight, being with our Lord, I said to him : " It 
seems to me you promised me here only crosses ; where 
are they, then ? I do not see them." Hardly had this 
thought occurred to me when there came upon me such 
a number that, so to speak, they were tumbling one over 
the other. 

Before continuing, I will mention that immediately on 
our arrival the Bishop of Geneva was so kind as to allow 
us to have the Holy Sacrament at our House. As soon 
as ever our chapel was in condition for it, we had this 
advantage ; and as we wished to place it the day of the 
Holy Cross, which was our fete — and which name I had 
taken without knowing why, to avoid recognition — the 
chapel not being yet sufficiently closed, for three nights I 
guarded the Holy Sacrament, lying by myself in the chapel. 
I never passed any with greater satisfaction. I had a 
movement to pray for that unfortunate town which was 
the object of my tenderness, and which was the occasion 
of all my disgraces. I had confidence, as I have still more 
at present, that it would be one day, my Divine Spouse, 
the throne of your mercies. I cannot doubt it. 

The Bishop, knowing I loved the Holy Child Jesus, sent 
me to place in our little chamber a simple image of paper 
of a Child Jesus, who held in his hands crosses for distri- 
bution. On receiving it, I was struck with the thought 
that he came with the hands full to distribute them to me, 
and I received them with all my heart. For you have 
always shown this kindness to me, my God, never to give 
me extraordinary crosses without first having obtained my 
consent— not to the nature of the cross in itself, but for 
the suffering an extraordinary cross which was proposed 
to me ; and at the same time those words said of Jesus 
Christ, my divine model, came to my mind : "For the joy 
set before him, endured the cross." It appeared to me 


tlicn, my God, that I was offered the choice either of 
the approbation of men and success, together with tho 
assurance of my salvation; or of the cross, wretchedncsK, 
rejection, persecution from all creatures, even privation of 
all creatures, even privation of all assurance of salvation, 
and nothing but YOUR GLORY ALONE. Love, tho hitler 
was the object of my choice and of my tender inchnation. 
Yes; "for the joy set before him, he endured the cross." 
I prostrated myself, my face to the earth, for a long time, 
as it were, to receive all your blows, amiable justice of 
my God, with which from that moment I felt myself 
inflamed. All self-interest having perished and been 
destroyed in me, nothing remained but the interest of your 
divine justice. Strike, divine Justice, who have not 
spared Jesus Christ, God-Man, who gave himself up to 
death to satisfy you. Him alone you found worthy of you, 
and in him you still find hearts which are fitted for you to 
exercise your loving cruelties. 

A few days after my arrival at Gex by night I saw in a 
dream (but a mysterious dream, for I perfectly well dis- 
tinguished it) Father La Combe fixed on a great cross of 
extraordinary height. He was naked in the way our 
Lord is pictured. I saw an amazing crowd who covered 
me with confusion and cast upon me the ignominy of his 
punishment. It seemed he suffered more pain than I, but 
I more reproaches than he. This surprised me the more, 
because, having seen him only once, I could not imagine 
what it meant. Lut I have indeed seen it accomplished. 
At the same time that I saw him thus fixed to the cross, 
these words were impressed on me : "I will strike tho 
shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered ; " and these 
others, " I have specially prayed for thee, Peter, that thy 
faith fail not. Satan has desired to sift thee." 

This worthy ecclesiastic, as I have said, gained over 
that girl, and afterwards the Superior. I was of a very 
delicate constitution, and, however willing, that did not 

286 MADAME GUYON. [Part II. 

give bodily strength. I had two maids to serve me, but as 
the community needed one to cook and the other to attend 
the gate, and for other duties, I gave them up, thinking 
that they would not be unwilling I should have their 
services sometimes ; since I besides allowed them to receive 
the whole of my income ; for immediately after my settle- 
ment was made they received in advance the half of my 
annuity. I believed then that they would consent to these 
two maids rendering me the services which I could not 
perform myself. But our Lord permitted that they were 
unwilling. The church was very large to sweep. I had to 
sweep it by myself. Oftentimes I have fainted over the 
broom, and remained in corners utterly exhausted. This 
obliged me to ask sometimes that they would have it done 
by the grown peasant girls, w'ho were there as New 
Catholics, and at last they had the kindness to allow this. 
"What troubled me most was that I had never done wash- 
ing, and it was necessary for me to wash all the linen of 
the sacristry. I took one of the maids I had brought to 
do it ; for I had spoiled everything. These good Sisters 
came and dragged her out of my room by the arm, telling 
her to mind her own business. I did not appear to notice 
it, and in whatever manner they behaved I made no 
remonstrance. So the worthy ecclesiastic saw that I would 
not withdraw for all this. Besides, the other Sister attached 
herself more and more to our Lord through means of prayer, 
and contracted great friendship for me. This increased the 
ecclesiastic's trouble so that he could not keej) in his rage 
against me. One day he thought proper to bring a very 
doubtful book to this girl. I handed it back to him, after 
having opened it, urgently requesting him not to bring 
books of this kind into the House. He was extremely 
offended, and set out for Annecy to make mischief. 




Up to that time the Bishop of Geneva had shown mo much 
esteem and kindness, and therefore this man cleverly took 
him off his guard. lie urged upon the Prelate that, in 
order to make certain of me for that House, he ought to 
compel me to give up to it the little money I had reserved 
for myself, and to bind me by making me the Superior. 
He knew well that I would never bind myself there, and 
that, my vocation being elsewhere, I would never give my 
capital to that House, where I had come onl}' as a visitor ; 
and that I would not be Superior, as I had many times 
already declared ; and that even should I bind myself, it 
would be only on the condition that this should not be. I 
believe, indeed, that this objection to being Superior was a 
remnant of the selfhood, coloured with humility. The 
Bishop of Geneva did not in the least penetrate the inten- 
tions of that ecclesiastic, who was called in the country 
the little Bishop, because of the ascendency ho had 
acquired over the mind of the Bishop of Geneva. Ho 
thought it was through afl'ection for me, and zeal for this 
House, that this man desired to bind me to it ; conse(]Ucntly 
he at once fell in with the proposal, resolving to carry it 
through at whatever price. The ecclesiastic, seeing ho 
had so well succeeded, no longer kept any bounds as 
regarded n^e. He commenced by stopping the letters I 
wrote Father La Combe. Afterwards he intercepted all 

288 MADAME GUYON. [Part IT. 

those I wrote to Paris, and those which were written to me, 
in order to influence people's minds as he pleased, and that 
I might not be able cither to know it, or defend myself, or 
toll how I was being treated. One of the maids I had 
brought wished to retui-n, not being able to remain in that 
place, so that only one remained for me, and she was weak 
and too much occupied to aid me in many things I had 
need of. As Father La Combe was coming for the retreat, 
I thought he would soften the bitter spirit of this man, 
and would advise me. Meanwhile the proposal of binding 
myself, and becoming Superior, was made to me. I 
answered, that as for binding myself, it was impossible, my 
vocation being elsewhere, and for the Superiorship, I could 
not be a Superior before being a novice ; that all of them 
had completed two years of novitiate before binding them- 
selves, and when I had done as much, I would see what 
God inspired me. The Superior answered me sharply 
enough, that if I contemplated quitting them some day, 
I might do it at once. However, I did not withdraw for 
this ; I behaved still in my usual way, but I saw the heavens 
grow dark gradually, and storms come from every side. 
The Superior meanwhile affected a more gentle air; she 
declared she also wished to go to Geneva, that I should not 
bind myself, but should promise to take her with me if I 
went there. She asked me whether I was not bound in 
some particular matter for Geneva. She wished to sound 
me, to see if I had not some plan, or perhaps some engage- 
ment under vow ; but as I had not the advice of Father La 
Combe, I did not say anything to her. She professed even 
much confidence in me, and seemed united to me. As I 
am very frank, and our Lord has given me much upright- 
ness, I believed she was acting in good faith : I even declared 
to her I was not attracted by the manner of life of the New 
Catholics, owing to their outside intrigues. I further let 
her know that certain abjurations and certain shufflings did 
not please me, because I desired people to be straight- 


forward in everything ; so that my refusal to Bign things 
which wore not true shocked them a little. She let nothing 
of it appear. She was a worthy person, and did thcso 
things only because that ecclesiastic told her it was neces- 
sary to act so, to bring the House into credit, and to attract 
the charity of Paris. I told her that if we acted uprightly 
God would not fail us ; that he would sooner work miracles. 
I remarked one thing, which was that as soon as one tuok 
to this mode of action, so alien from uprightness and sin- 
cerity, and even justice, that what one did in the expecta- 
tion of attracting charity, had the effect, without any one 
knowing anything of it, that people grew cold, and the 
charity was checked. God, is it not you who inspire 
charity, and is it not sister of truth ? IIow, then, attract it 
by deception ? It must be attracted by confidence in God, 
and then it becomes extremely liberal ; any other mode of 
behaviour ties it up. 

One day after the Superior had communicated, she 
came to me and told me that our Lord had let her 
know how dear Father La Combe was to him, and that ho 
was a saint, that she felt herself disposed to make a vow 
of obedience to him. She appeared to say all this in per- 
fect good faith, and I believe she was then speaking sincerely 
for she had ups and downs of weakness, which are common 
enough to our sex, and ought to make us very humble. I 
told her she should not do this : she said she wished it, and 
she was about to pronounce the vow. I opposed it strongly, 
saying that these things should not be done lightly, nor 
without consulting the person whom one wished to obey, to 
ascertain if he would accept it. She was satisfied with my 
reasons, and wrote to Father La Combe all which she said 
had taken place in her, and how she desired to vow obedience 
to him, that it was God who urged her to it. Father La 
Combe answered her, and she showed me the letter. Ho 
told her she should never make a vow to obey any man ; 
that he would never be her adviser ; that the person who 

VOL. I. ^ 

290 MADAME GDYON. [Paet II. 

is suitable at one time is not so at another ; that one 
should remain free, obeying, nevertheless, with love and 
charity, all the same as if bound by a vow ; that as for 
himself, he had never received such a vow from any one 
and never would, that it was even forbidden him by their 
rules : that none the less he would serve her to the best of 
his ability, and that in a short time he would go to conduct 
the retreats. She had also told him in that letter that 
she prayed he would ask our Lord to let her know if he 
destined her for Geneva, whether she should go with me ; 
that she was content whatever the will of God, only that he 
should tell her exactly what he knew in these things. He 
wrote her that on this article he would simply tell her what 
he thought of it. 

It is true that the characteristic of Father La Combe is 
simplicity and straightforwardness. When he came for 
the retreats, which was the third and last time he came to 
Gex, on the first day she spoke to him with much eager- 
ness. She asked him if one day she would be united with 
me at Geneva. He answered her with his usual candour : 
*' My mother, our Lord has let me know that you will never 
be established at Geneva ; as for the others, I have no 
light." (She is dead, so that was well verified.) As soon as 
he made this declaration, she appeared enraged against 
him and me in a surprising way. She went to find the 
ecclesiastic, who was in a room with the housekeeper, 
and they together took measures to compel me either to 
bind myself or to withdraw. They thought I would rather 
bind myself than withdraw. And they watched my letters 
more closely. 

The Father preached at her request, which was only 
to lay a trap for him. He had in the parish made a 
sermon on charity, which had carried away every one. 
She asked him for a sermon touching the inner life. He 
preached one which he had preached at the Visitation at 
Tonon : " The beauty of the King's daughter comes from 



within." He explained what the inner life is, and what it 
is to act from it as a principle. That ecclesiastic, who 
was present with one of his confidants, said that it was 
preached against him, and that it was full of errors. He 
extracted eight propositions, which the Father had not 
preached, and after dressing them out as maliciously as 
he could, he sent them to a friend at Eome, in order, as 
he said, that they might he examined hy the Sacred 
College and the Inquisition. Although they were very 
badly drawn up, they, nevertheless, passed as quite 
sound. His friend told him there was nothing whatever 
wrong in them. This vexed him, for he is not, as I hear, 
theologian enough to judge anything for himself. More- 
over, he came the next day with surprising anger to 
Father La Combe, and attacked him, saying he had 
made the sermon to offend him. The Father drew it 
from his pocket, and showed him that he had thereon 
written the dates and the places where he had preached 
it ; so that he was confounded, but not appeased. He 
became still more angry in the presence of many per- 
sons who were assembled there. The Father went on 
his knees, and in that position listened for half an hour to 
all the abuse which the ecclesiastic chose to utter. They 
came to tell me, but I did not choose to have anything 
to do with all that. The Father, after being treated in 
this way, said to the ecclesiastic with much sweetness and 
humility, that he was obliged to go to Annecy for some 
business of their convent, and that if he desired to send 
anything to the Bishop, he would take charge of his letters. 
The other answered for him to wait, that he would write. 
This good Father had the patience to wait for more than 
three full hours without hearing anything from him. They 
came and told me, " Do you know that Father La Combe 
has not started, but is in the church, where he awaits 

letters from M ? "—mentioning the priest who had so 

-illtreated him that he even tore from his hands a letter, 

292 MADAME GUYON. [Part II. 

which I had just given him for the good hermit I have 
mentioned. I went to the church to ask him to send the 
servant who was to accompany him to Annecy to see if 
the packet of that gentleman was ready ; for the day was 
so far gone that he would have to sleep on the road. This 
man found mounted a servant of the ecclesiastic, who 
told him, It is I who am going there. And as he was 

going in, this same M said to another servant, to go 

as fast as he could so as to reach Annecy before the Father. 
He had kept him waiting merely to send off a man before 
him to prejudice the mind of the Bishop ; and he sent back 
word to the Father that he had no letters to give him. 

Father La Combe none the less went to Annecy, where 
he found the Bishop much prejudiced and embittered. He 
said to him: "My Father, it is absolutely necessary to 
bind that lady to give what she has to the House at Gex, 
and to become the Superior." " My lord," answered 
Father La Combe, " you know what she has herself told 
you of her vocation both at Paris and in this country, and 
therefore I do not believe she will consent to bind herself. 
It is not likely that, having given up everything in the 
hope of going into Geneva, she should bind herself else- 
where, and thus render it impossible for her to accomplish 
God's designs for her. She has offered to remain with 
these good Sisters as a lodger. If they desire to keep her 
in that capacity she will remain with them ; if not, she is 
resolved to withdraw into some convent until God shall 
dispose of her otherwise." The Bishop answered: "My 
Father, I know all that, but at the same time I know she 
is obedient, and if you so order her, she will surely do it." 
*' It is for this reason, my lord, because she is obedient, 
that one should be very cautious in the commands one 
gives her," answered the Father. ** It is not likely that I 
will urge a foreign lady, who has for her whole subsistence 
merely what she has reserved for herself, to rob herself of 
that in favour of a House which is not yet founded, and 


which, perhaps, never will be founded. If the IIouko 
happens to fail, or to bo no longer useful, on what shall 
the lady live ? Shall she go to the almshouse ? In fact, 
before long this House will be of no use, for there will 
be no Protestants in France." The Bishop said : " My 
Father, all these reasons arc good for nothing. If you do 
not cause the lady to do it, I will interdict you." That 
mode of speaking surprised the Father, who well enough 
knew the rules of the interdict, as not allowing it in 
matters of this nature. He said to him : " My lord, I 
am ready to suffer not only the interdict, but even 
death rather than do anything against my honour or 
conscience," and withdrew. He wrote mo at the same 
time everything by an express, that I might take my 
measures thereon. I had nothing left but to with- 
draw into a convent, but before doing so I said again 
to these good Sisters that I was going away ; for at the 
same time I received a letter that the nun to whom I 
had entrusted my daughter, and who was the one spoke 
French least corruptly, and was very virtuous, had fallen 
ill, and that she prayed me to go for a time to my daughter. 
I showed them the letter, and told them that I wished to 
withdraw into that community; that if they ceased per- 
secuting me as they were doing, and if Father La Combo 
was left in quiet — who was deemed the apostle of the 
country because of the wonderful fruit of his missions — I 
would return as soon as the mistress of my daughter was 
recovered. It was my intention to do it. Instead of this, 
they persecuted me with more violence, and wrote against 
me to Paris, intercepted all my letters, and sent out libels, 
where it was said, the person would be recognized by a 
little cross of wood she wore : as a fact, I had on my neck 
a little cross from the tomb of St. Francis de Sales. 

This ecclesiastic and his friend went through all the 
places where Father La Combe had held his mission, to 
decry him and speak against him so violently that a woman 

294 MADAME GUYON. [Part II. 

■was afraid to say her Pater because, she said, she had 
learned it from him. They made a fearful scandal 
through the whole country. Father La Combe was not 
in the country, for the day after my arrival at the Ursulines 
of Tonon, he set out in the morning to preach the Lent 
sermons at the Valley of Aosta. He came to say adieu to 
me, and at the same time told me he would go to Eome, and 
probably would not return, that his superiors might keep 
him there, that he was sorry to leave me in a strange 
country without help, and persecuted by every one. Did 
not that trouble me ? I said to him : ** My Father, I am 
not troubled at it. I use the creatm-es for God, and by his 
order ; through his mercy I get on very well without them 
when he withdraws them. I am quite content never to see 
you again, if such be his will, and to remain under per- 
secution." When he said that to me he did not know it 
would become so violent as it did. Afterwards he said he 
set out well pleased to see me in this disposition, and thus 
went away. 

But before going further, I will tell what happened to 
me previously. As soon as I arrived at the Ursulines, a 
very old priest, reputed a very holy man, and who for 
twenty years had not left his solitude, came to see me, and 
told me he had a vision about me before my arrival. He 
saw a woman in a boat on the lake, and the Bishop with 
some of his priests were doing all they could to sink the 
boat and drown her. This vision lasted more than two 
hours, troubling his spirit; that sometimes the woman 
seemed utterly submerged, and was not visible at all, and 
then, when she seemed lost, suddenly she reappeared. ** In 
short," he said, " for two hours I saw this woman, one 
moment lost, another out of danger, while all the time the 
Bishop continued to persecute her. The woman was 
always equally tranquil, but I never saw her altogether 
free ; from which I conclude the Bishop will persecute you, 
and will never give it up. Such a one thinks he will 


desist, and I como to assure you he will not ; ho will di(! 
while persecuting you, and will not change." 

I had an intimate friend, the wife of the Governor, of 
whom I have spoken in this narrative. "When she flaw I 
had given up everything for God, she had a strong desire 
to follow me. She set herself to arrange everything so as 
to come and see me, but when she learned of the persecu- 
tion, she saw there was no sense in her going to a place 
from which I should be obliged to withdraw, and she died 
soon after. 

296 MADAME GUYON. [Paet II. 


As soon as Father La Combe was gone the persecution 
became stronger than before. The Bishop still showed 
me some politeness, as well to see if he could bring me 
over to his purpose as to gain time for ascertaining how 
things would go in France, and for prejudicing people 
against me, always taking care to prevent my receiving 
any letters. I let but very few be intercepted, and only 
those which were indispensable. The ecclesiastic and 
another had open on their table twenty-two letters which 
did not reach me; and in one of them was a very important 
power of attorney sent for my signature. This they were 
obliged to put in a new envelope to send to me. The 
Bishop wrote to Father La Mothe, and he had little trouble 
in making him embrace his interests. He was dissatisfied 
because I had not given him the annuity he expected, as 
he has many times plainly told me, and he was offended 
because I did not follow his advice in everything, added to 
which were some other personal causes. He from the first 
declared against me. The Bishop, who cared to humour 
only him, felt strong enough with Father La Mothe on 
his side, and even made him his confidant, while he 
circulated the news written by them. The general opinion 
was that what caused him and his brother to act in this 
way was the fear that I might cancel the deed of settle- 
ment if I returned, and that, having influence and friends, 

Chap. VII.] AUTOBIOGUAniY. 207 

I might find the means of setting it aside. They wore very 
much mistaken in this ; for I never had the thought of 
loving anything else than the poverty of Jesus Christ. For 
some time the Father kept terms \vith me. He wrote mo 
letters adtkcssed to the Bishop ; and they so well under- 
stood each other that he was the only person wliose Utters 
I received. Our Lord gave mo very heautiful letters to 
write to him ; hut in place of hcing touched he was irritated 
at them. I do not think there could be more powerful or 
more touching. 

The Bishop, as I said, kept some terms with me for a 
time, making me believe that he had consideration for mc ; 
but he wrote to people at Paris, and the Sister also wrote 
to all those pious people from whom I had received letters, 
in order to prejudice them against me, and to escape thu 
blame that naturally would fall on them for having so 
shamefully treated a person who had given up everything 
to devote herself to the service of his diocese; and ill- 
treatedher only after she had strippedherself of her property, 
and was no longer in a condition to return to France — to 
avoid, I say, a censure so just they invented every kind of 
false and fabulous stories. Besides that I was unalile 
to make known the truth in France, our Lord inspired nic 
to sufi'er everything without justifying myself. I did this 
with Father La Clothe. As I saw he twisted everything, 
and showed himself more bitter than the Bishop, I ceased 
to write to hira. On the other hand, the New Catholics, 
who are in great credit, blamed and condemned me to 
excuse their violence. People saw only condemnation and 
accusation without any justification. It was not difiicult 
to blame and cast imputations on one who did not defend 

I was in this convent. I had seen Father La Combe 
only on the occasions I have mentioned. Nevertheless, 
they circulated a story that I was running about with him ; 
that he had taken me driving in a carriage at Geneva, that 

?98 MADAME GUTON. [Part II. 

the carriage was overturned, and a hundred malicious 
absurdities. Father La Mothe himself retailed all this, 
whether he thought it true or otherwise. Yet even had he 
believed these things true, ho was bound to conceal them. 
But what do I say, my God, or where am I wandering ? 
Was it not you who allowed him and his brother to be 
impressed with these things, that believing them true they 
might be able to repeat them without scruple ? As for 
his brother, I believe he accepted them only on the report 
of Father La Mothe, who made him believe them true. 
Father La Mothe further retailed that I had been on 
horseback behind Father La Combe, which is the more 
false, in that I have never sat in that way. 

All these calumnies turned to ridicule persons who were 
previously esteemed saints. It is here we must admire the 
dealings of God : for what cause had I given for them to 
speak in this way ? I was in a convent a hundred and 
fifty leagues distant from Father La Combe, and neverthe- 
less they made out the most disgraceful stories of him and 
of me. 

I did not know that things were pushed so far and so 
violently, for I had no news. I saw I did not receive letters 
from any quarter, neither from my friends nor from 
persons of piety ; but as I knew all my letters were inter- 
cepted, I was not surprised at it. I lived in this House 
with my daughter very peacefully, and it was a very great 
providence, for my daughter no longer could speak French ; 
among the little girls of the mountains she had acquired a 
foreign air and objectionable manners. She had forgotten 
the little she had learned in France. In regard to her I 
had many occasions for new sacrifices. As to cleverness 
and judgment, she was surprising, and had the best 
inclinations ; but there were little tempers caused by 
certain unreasonable contradictions, and by caresses out 
of place. This arose from ignorance in education. God 
provided for everything in her case, as I will tell. 


I could hardly say anythinpj of the interior Btato I then 
was in, for it was so simple, so naked, bo anniiiilaled that 
things were in me as if natural. I could only judge of 
them by the effects. ^My silence was very ^rcat, and I had 
at the commencement leisure to taste God without dJHtinct 
consciousness, in himself (dans I'inconnu de lui-meme), in 
my little cell. But afterwards that good Sister (as I Kliall 
tell) continually interrupted me. I gave myself up to what- 
ever she desired of me, both from condescension and because 
of a certain central principle in me, which would have 
made me obey a child. Nothing, it seems, could interrupt 
me. All that tempest did not make the smallest alteration 
in my mind or my heart. I^fy central depth was in a 
generality, peace, liberty, largeness, indestructible. And 
although I sometimes suffered in the senses owmg to the 
continual upsets, that did not penetrate ; they were only 
waves breaking on a rock. The central depth was so lost 
in the will of God that it could neither will nor not will. 
I remained abandoned, without troubling as to what I 
should do, or what I should become, or what would be the 
end of the frightful tempest, which was only commencing. 
The leading of providence for the present moment consti- 
tuted all my guidance without guidance, for the soul in 
the state of which I speak cannot desire or seek a special 
or extraordinary providence ; but I allowed myself to be 
led by the daily providence from moment to moment, with- 
out thinking of the morrow. I was like a child in your 
hands, my God. I did not think from one moment to 
the other, but I reposed in the shadow of your protection 
without thinking of anything, without taking more care 
of myself than if I no longer existed. My soul was in 
such perfect abandonment, both interiorly and exteriorly, 
that she could take neither rule nor measure for any- 
thing. It was a matter of indifference to her to bo in 
one way rather than another, in one company rather 
than another, at prayer, or at conversation. Before- 

300 MADAME GUYON. [Pabt II. ' 

continuing, I must tell how our Lord worked to bring me 
to this indifference. 

While I was still in my own house, without other 
director than his Spirit, however possessed of him I 
might be, or however intently engaged in prayer, as soon 
as one of my little children knocked at my door, or the 
most insignificant person came to me, it was his will that 
I should break off. And once, when I was so penetrated 
by the Divinity that I could hardly speak, one of my little 
children knocked at my closet, wishing to play near me. 
I thought I should not break off for that, and I sent away 
the child without opening. Our Lord made me under- 
stand that all this was an assertion of the selfhood, and 
that which I thought to preserve was lost. Another time 
he sent me to call back those whom I had dismissed. It 
was necessary for me to become supple as a leaf in your 
adorable hand, my God, so that I might receive all alike 
from your providence. Sometime they came and inter- 
rupted me for things without a shadow of reason, and that, 
at every moment ; I had to receive them alike the last time 
as the first, all this being alike to me in your providence. 

It is not, my God, actions in themselves which are 
agreeable to you, but obedience to all your wiUs, and a 
suppleness that clings to nothing. It is by little things 
that insensibly the soul is detached from everything, and 
holds to nothing ; she is suited for whatever God wishes of 
her, and ceases utterly to resist. will of God, indicated 
by so many petty providences, how good it is to follow you, 
for you accustom the soul to recognize you, to cling to 
nothing, and to go with you into whatever place you lead 

My soul was then, it seemed to me, like a leaf or a 
feather, which the wind carries where it pleases. She 
yielded herself to the operation of God, and all that he did 
externally and internally, in the same manner ; allowing 
herself to be led without any choice, content to obey a 



child as readily as a man of learning and experience, Beoing 
only God in tho man in God, who never permits the soul 
entirely abandoned to him to be deceived. 

I cannot tolerate the injustice which most men arc 
guilty of, who make no difficulty of giving thcmHclves up 
to another man, and regard this as prudence. They give 
themselves up to men who are nothing, and they boldly 
say, " That person cannot be deceived, for he relies on such 
a one, who is a very honest man ; " and if one speaks of a 
soul entirely abandoning herself to her God, and following 
him with fidelity, they say loudly, " This person is deceived 
with his abandonment." Love and God ! do you lack 
strength or faithfulness, or love, or wisdom to conduct those 
who abandon themselves to you, and are your dearest 
children ? I have seen men bold enough to say, " Follow 
me ; you will not be deceived or led astray." O my Love, 
how these people are themselves led astray by their pre- 
sumption, and how far sooner would I go with him who 
feared misleading me, who, trusting neither in his learn- 
ing nor his experience, supported himself on you alone ! 
Such was, my God, the Father you had given me, 
who was not willing to conduct souls by his own ways, but 
by abandonment to your divine guidance, endeavouring to 
follow your Spirit in them. 

Immediately on my arrival at the Ursulines of Tonon, 
our Lord made me see in a dream two ways by which ho 
conducted souls under the figure of two drops of water. 
The one seemed to me of a brilliance and beauty and clear- 
ness unequalled ; the other seemed also to have brilliance, 
but it was all full of little fibres or threads of mud, and as 
I regarded them attentively it was said to me : " These two 
kinds of water are both alike good for quenching thirst, 
but this is drunk with pleasure, the other with something 
of disgust. The way of faith, pure and simple, is hke this 
very brilliant and clear drop of water ; it is highly pleasing 
to the Spouse, because it is utterly pure, without anything 

302 MADAME GtJYOJ^. [Pakt II. 

of the selfhood. It is not the same with the way of ilhi- 
mination which does not equallj'- please the Si^ouse, and is 
not nearly so agreeahle to him." 

It was then shown me that this pure way was the one 
by which our Lord had had the goodness to conduct me 
hitherto ; that the way of illumination was that by which 
some illumined souls were proceeding, and that they had 
led Father La Combe into it. At the same time he 
appeared to me clothed with a garment all torn, and I 
suddenly saw that this garment was mended on me. xVt 
lirst was made one quarter of it, and then another quarter ; 
then after a long interval the other half was all made, and 
he was clothed anew magnificently. As I was troubled to 
know what this signified, our Lord told me that without 
my knowing it, he had given him to me, drawing him to a 
more perfect life than hitherto he had led ; that it was at 
the time of my attack of small-pox he had given him, and 
that the price to me was that illness and the loss of my 
younger son ; that he is not merely my Father, but my son ; 
and that the other quarter of the garment was made when, 
passing by the place of my residence, he was more keenly 
touched, and embraced a life more interior and more perfect ; 
from which time out he has still continued; but now 
everything must be completed, God willing to make use 
of me to bring him to walk in the way of simple faith and 
destruction of the self : which has taken place. The next 
day this Father, having come to say Mass at the Ursulines, 
and having asked me, I did not venture to tell him any- 
thing — although our Lord very strongly urged me to do 
it — owing to a remnant of selfhood, which formerly 
would have passed for humility in my mind. However, I 
spoke before the Sisters of the way of faith, how far more, 
glorious to God, and more advancing to the soul it was, 
than all revelations and assurances, which still keep alive 
the soul in herself. This at first shocked them and him also, 
so much as to raise a feeling against me. I saw they were 


hurt, as tlicy afterwards acknowledged. I said no raoro 
then, but as the Father is most huinbk", he ordered mo to 
explain what I had wished to say to him. I tuld him a 
part of the dream of the two drops of water ; he did not, 
however, then take in what I said to him, the hour not 
being j'et come. But when he came to Gex to conduct 
the retreats, our Lord made me know, while I was praying 
at night, that I was his mother and that he was my son ; 
he confirmed the dream I had had, and ordered me to tell it 
to Father La Combe, and for proof of what I said, ho 
should examine at what time he was touched with a strong 
contrition, and see whether it was not the time of my 
small-pox. Our Lord further made mj know that ho gave 
to some souls numbers of persons without their knowing 
it, except sometimes, and that he had given me another, to 
purchase whom he had taken from me my daughter ; 
which exactl}' fitted in with that time. 

My difficulty was to tell this to the Father, whom 1 
hardly had any acquaintance with. I wished to dissemble 
with myself, and say that it was presumption, although 1 
perceived very well that it was the self-love which desired 
to escape, to avoid confusion. I felt myself painfully 
pressed to tell it to him. I went to see him as he was 
preparing for the Mass, and having approached him as if 
for confession, I said to him, " My Father, our Lord 
desires me to say that I am your mother-in-grace, and I 
will tell you the rest after the Mass." He said the Mass, 
during which he was convinced of what I had said to him. 
After the Mass he wished me to tell him all the particulars 
of everything, and of the dream. I told them. lie 
remembered that our Lord had often made known to him 
that he had a mother-in-grace, whom he did not know, and 
having asked me the time I had had the small-pox, I told 
him on St. Francis' Day, and that my younger son died 
a few days before All Saints. He recognized that it 
was the very time when our Lord touched him in such 

304 MADAME GUYON. [Part II. 

an extraordinary way that be was near dying of con- 
trition. This caused him such an interior awakening that, 
having retired to pray, he was seized with an interior joy 
and great emotion, which made him enter into what I 
had said of the way of faith. He ordered me to write for 
him what the way of faith and the way of illumination 
were. It was at this time and for him that I wrote the 
paper " On Faith," which was considered good. I have no 
copy ; I believe, however, it is still in existence. I neither 
knew what I was writing, nor what I had written, no more 
than in the rest which I have since written. I gave it to 
the Father, who told me he would read it on the way to 
Aosta. I tell these things without order as they occur 
to me. 

To resume my narrative, as soon as I left Gex they 
commenced tormenting in a strange way that good girl who 
had given herself to God, and on account of whom the whole 
tragedy was played. The ecclesiastic attacked her more 
vigorously than ever, and to succeed the better, he depicted 
me in a contemptible aspect in order that, as she has 
cleverness, the ridicule into which he turned me should 
make her lose the esteem she entertained for me, and lead 
her to give herself to his guidance. She still confessed to him, 
but she was not willing to enter into anything more special 
with him ; on the other hand, the Sisters represented 
the friendship she had for me as a frightful crime. They 
tried to make her say what was not fact; she was per- 
secuted incessantly. The Bishop wrote to her to put full 
confidence in that ecclesiastic. She said that in the 
height of her trouble she used to see me every night in a 
dream, that I encouraged her to suffer, and told her what 
answers she should make. As they have no vows, par- 
ticularly in the matter of obedience, and she had not been 
forbidden, she found means of writing a note to me. They 
discovered her. There was nothing in it beyond a little 
friendship. The ecclesiastic refused her for a month both 



absolution and the Communion owinj:,' to tliat nolo. Tlio 
Sisters, on the other hand, cau.scd her very great troublcB, 
but God gave her the grace to suffer all. We could liavo 
no communications; however, our Lord still supported hor 
After Easter of the year 1(;,S2 the Bishop came to 
Tonon. I had an opportunity of speaking to him when by 
himself, and our Lord caused that when I had spoken ho 
was satisfied; but the people who had stirred him up 
against me returned to the charge. He strongly pressed 
me to return to Gex, and become Superior. I answered 
him that as to the Superiorship, none could be Superior 
without having been novice, and as for the binding myself, 
he himself knew my vocation, and what I had told him 
both at Paris and Gex ; that, notwithstanding, I spoke to 
him as a Bishop, who held the place of God, and he should 
be careful to think only of God in what he should say to 
me ; that if, holding this place, he told me to bind myself, 
I would do it. He remained quite confused, and said to 
me, " Since you speak to me in this way, I cannot adviao 
it. You cannot go against your vocation ; but I pray you 
confer benefit on that House." I promised to do so, and 
when I received my annuity I sent a hundred pistoles, in- 
tending to continue the same as long as I remained in the 
diocese. He withdrew, well pleased, for surely he loves 
good, and it is a pity he allows himself to be governed as 
he does. He even said, " I love Father La Combe ; he is a 
true servant of God. He has told me things I cannot doubt, 
for I felt them in myself. But," continued he, " when I 
say this, I am told I deceive myself, and that he will be 
mad before six months." It was the discontented monk, 
the friend of the ecclesiastic, who had said that. This 
weakness astonished me. He told me he was very well 
satisfied with the nuns whom Father La Combe had con* 
ducted, and was as far as possible from finding any such 
thing as had been told him. I took the opi)ortunity there- 
upon to say to him he should in all things nly ou 

VOL. I. ^ 

306 MADAME GUYON. [Part II. 

himself, and not on others. He agreed. Hardly, however, 
had he returned, when he agam took up his former sus- 
picions. He sent me word hy the same ecclesiastic that it 
was his opinion I should bind myself at Gex. I requested 
that ecclesiastic to tell him I held to the advice he had 
given me; that he had spoken to me as from God, and 
at present they were making him speak as man. 



CIIAPTEii Vlll. 

My soul was, as I have said, in an cDtirc Kolf-surrcudcr, 
and very great contcntmcut in the midst of these violent 
tempests. She could do nothing but continue in her 
former indifference, desiring nothing even of God, whether 
grace or disgrace, sweetness or cross. Formerly she 
desired the cross with such eagerness as to be quite lan- 
guishing ; then she could neither desire nor choose, but 
received all the crosses in a uniform spirit, accepting them 
all with indifference from the hand of Love, whether of one 
description or another, severe or light : all was welcome. 
Those persons came and told me a hundred absunlities 
against Father La Combe, thinking by this to induce me no 
longer to follow his advice. The more they told me things 
to his disadvantage, the more our Lord gave me esteem for 
him in the depth of my heart. I said to them, " Possibly 
I shall never see him again, but I am quite ready to do 
bim justice. It is not ho who prevents my binding 
myself, but it is because this is not my vocation." They 
asked me who knew it better than the Lishop ; and 
they told me I was under deception, that my state was 
of no account. I was indifferent to that. I could neither 
be assured nor uncertain. I surrendered myself as ouo 
who had nothing to think or wish, having made over to 
God the care of willing and executing what he wills, and in 
the manner which he wills. 

308 MADAME GUYON. [Part II. 

A soul iu this state has no sweetness nor sphitual relish. 
It would be unseasonable. She remains such as she is in her 
nothingness as to herself, and this is her place ; and in the 
all as to God, ^yithout reference to, or reflection on, herself. 
She knows not if she has virtues, gifts, and graces in him 
who is the author of all that ; she does not think of it, and 
can will nothing, and everything that concerns her is, as 
it were, foreign. She has not even the desire of procuring 
the glory of God, leaving to God the care of procuring 
it for himself, and she is in regard to it as pleases him. 
Iu this state God sometimes sets her to pray for some soul ; 
but this is done without choice or premeditation, in peace, 
without desire for success. What does this soul, then ? one 
will ask. 

She lets herself be led by iDrovidences and by creatures 
without resistance. Her outside life is quite common, and 
as for within, she sees nothing there ; she has no assur- 
ance, either internal or external, and yet she never was more 
assured. The more hopeless everything, the more is her 
central depth tranquil, iu spite of the ravage of the 
senses and of creatures, which for some time after the new 
life makes some slight cloud and partition, as I have said. 
I should remark that the reason why there occurs a par- 
tition is because the soul is only immediately united, not 
yet transformed ; for as soon as she is mingled and entirely 
passed into her original Being, there is no longer a partition. 
If she committed sins, she should be rejected and cast out, 
so to speak. No longer, then, does she find those partitions, 
however subtle and delicate — I mean, reflections, light and 
superficial assertions of the selfhood, the actual faults of a 
previous state, which the soul then clearly enough perceived 
to be partitions ; as well as the impurity which came from 
human action, a hasty word, natural action or eagerness, 
which caused a mist that she could neither i^revent nor 
remedy, nor even wish to, having so often found that her 
own efforts had not only been useless, but also injurious, 


and that tlioy dcfilod bor tho more owinp; to the stato of 
sclf-auniliilation in which she was. 

At the coramcuccmont of the way of faith tho bouI 
profits from her defects, being l)y them humiliated tbrotif,'li 
a reflection, simple, peaceful, tranquil, loving the abjtct- 
ness which she reaps from them. Tho more sho advances 
the more this simple action, without action, liccomcs 
simplified. At last there is no longer a question of this ; 
the soul remains motionless and unshaken, l^caring 
without movement the trouble her fault causes her, 
without any action whatsoever. It is what God requires 
from the soul from the time she is completely passive ; 
and this is the conduct he has observed with me from the 
early years, long before the state of death. But, however 
faithful the soul to perform no sensible action to get rid of 
her trouble, there was yet an almost imperceptible action 
which the soul then did not know, and which she has 
become acquainted with only because sho afterwards has 
found herself in a state exempt from this simple — nny, 
very simple action. It is impossible to understand me 
without experience. This stage is very diflicult, and tlu- 
soul only after many infidelities is strong in this pro- 
cedure without procedure' : for previously, as the fault is 
real, and the soul feels her impurity, she feels at the same 
time a secret instinct to rid herself of it ; but in this degree 
which I am now treating, besides that she would find no 
remedy in anything coming from herself, it is owing to tho 
love of her own excellence that she is led to exert herself. 
At the degree of which I speak, it is necessary that all puri- 
fication come from God ; one must wait in repose without 
perceived repose sometimes, for the Sun of Righteous- 
ness to dissipate these mists. Eventually this conduct 
becomes so natural that the soul has not even a desire to 
do anything. She leaves herself a prey to the intirior 
burnings with an unshaken firmness ; and though sho 
should °see all hell armed, she would not change tlu- course 

310 MADAME GUYON. [Part II. 

of guidance. It is then she says -^-ith reason, as the royal 
prophet, "Though I should see an army ranged in hattle 
I would not fear, and their force would redouble my 
courage." She may, indeed, have a little fear in the senses, 
but she remains fixed and firm as a rock, preferring in her 
perfect abandonment to be the plaything of demons rather 
than secure herself by a sigh. 

In this state the soul commits no voluntary fault : 
that is my belief ; for it is not likely that, having no will 
for anything whatsoever, great or small, pleasant or bitter — 
for honour, wealth, life, perfection, salvation, eternity — she 
should have a will to offend God ; therefore it is not so. 
All her imperfections are in nature, not in herself; therefore 
it is on the surface, and that is lost gradually. It is true 
our nature is so deceitful that it insinuates itself everywhere, 
and the soul is not incapable of sin ; but her greatest faults 
are her reflections, which are here very injurious, as she 
then wishes to regard herself under pretext even of telling 
her state. For this reason one should be in no trouble at 
aU to tell one's state, or to take any count of it, if God does 
not put into the mind what he wills one to say of it. And 
when the director knows the state of the soul, he does not 
require it ; if he required it, or actual light on the subject 
were given him, one should do it without self-regard or 
reflection. The selfhood's look is like that of the Basilisk ; 
it kills. 

The same firmness which keeps her from stirring under 
the troubles of her defects, the soul should preserve under 
temptations. The Devil greatly fears to approach such 
souls, and lie leaves them at once, no longer daring to 
attack them. He attacks only those who yield, or who 
fear him. Souls conducted by faith are not ordinarily 
tried by the demons ; that is for souls conducted by illumi- 
nation. For it is necessary to know that the trials are 
always suited to the state of the soul. Those who are 
conducted by illumination, by extraordinary gifts, ecstasies, 

Chap. VIII.] AUTORIOGIlArilY. 311 

etc., have also extraordinary trials which arc cfTccted by the 
intcrventiou of demons ; for, as everything with them Ik in 
the line of assurance, the trial even is an assurance. But 
it is not the same with the souls of simple faith : as they 
are conducted by nakedness, self-annihilation, and by what 
is commonplace, their trial is also quite commonplact- ; 
but that is far more terrible, and destroys the selfliood 
more. That which causes its death for them is nothin;; 
extraordinary, it is only tlie disturbance of their own tem- 
perament ; they are troubles they regard as veritable faultK, 
which give them no assurance unless it be that of their 
total self-annihilation. These two states arc found in St. 
Paul; he says in one place, ** An angel of Satan was given 
to him to buffet him, that he should not bo exalted above 
measure." Here is the trial suitable to the illumination. 
But as this great doctor and master of spiritual life had to 
experience all states, he does not remain there ; he has 
another trial which he calls "a thorn of the flesh," to 
show that he has experience of all. " lie prayed," he says, 
"three times," and it was said to him, "My grace is 
enough, for virtue is perfected in weakness." All this 
though to humiliate him, yet acted in the way of assurance. 
However, because these revelations were assured, he has 
experienced another state which he calls " the body of sin ; " 
and this expression is admirable, for as after death the 
body decays only from its own corruption, so in this state 
it seems that the soul experiences the exhalations from the 
body of sin, that is, from a body corrupted by sin. " Miser- 
able ! " says be, " who shall deliver me from the body of 
death?"— for I feel that it is a body which carries in itsdf 
death, and to which I would be unable to give life ; and 
then, convinced of his inability to deliver himself from so 
great an ill, having deplored his wretchedness, which then 
is without assurance and with knowledge of his powerless- 
ness—" Wretched man that I am, who shall dehver me 
from this body of death ? " (from this body stinkmg and 

312 MADAME GUYON. [Part II. 

corrupt, which I carry, though I am living) — he answers 
himself: " It will he the grace of God by our Lord Jesus 
Christ," And how do j'ou understand that, Paul? It is 
that Jesus Christ, taking in me the place of my sinful and 
carnal man, stripping me of that old man, of that body 
corrupted by sin, will clothe me anew, because he has van- 
quished death in me, when he said, "0 death, I will be thy 
death ; hell, I will be thy destruction." When Jesus Christ 
shall have conquered in me death by his life, and in this 
wonderful duel life shall have surmounted my death, 
there will be no longer any sting in death, since there 
will no longer be any sin ; and it is then that grace shall 
deliver me from this body of sin by Jesus Christ my 

I say, then, that the same firmness which one should 
have in regard to defects and temptations, so as not to give 
an opening to the Devil, one should have in regard to gifts 
and graces. In this state everything is so inward that 
nothing is perceived. But if anything falls upon the senses 
the soul is steadfast in letting the grace come and go, 
making no movement, however simple, either to relish or 
to recognize it. She leaves everything as though it was 
passing in another, without taking any part in it. At the 
commencement, and for a considerable time, the soul sees 
that nature wishes to take its part, and then her fidelity 
consists in restraining it, without permitting it the least 
expansion ; but after the habit of restraining it has enabled 
her to remain immovable, and as if it w^ere a thing that 
did not affect her, she no longer regards anything, she no 
longer appropriates to herself anything, and she lets all 
flow by into God in purity, as it has come forth from him. 
Until the soul be in this state, she always in some degree 
defiles by her intermixture the operation of God, like 
those streams which contract corruption from the places 
through which they flow ; but as soon as the same streams 
flow in a pure place, they then continue in the purity of 

Chap. VIII.] AUTOBIOGRAniY. 313 

their source. This much destroyfi nature, and drives it 
out from its abode, leaving it no refuge ; Ijut, short of 
experience, and unless God made known this conduct to the 
soul, she cannot understand it, or picture it in imagination, 
owing to its groat simplicity. Tlic mind is empty, is no 
longer traversed by thoughts ; nothing occupies a certain 
void which is no longer painful, and the soul discovers in 
herself an immense capacity, which nothing can either 
limit or obstruct. External employments are no longer 
a trouble, and the soul is in a state of stability, which can- 
not be expressed, and which will be little understood. Oli, 
if souls had courage enough to allow themselves to be 
annihilated without pitying themselves, without looking to 
anything, supporting themselves on anything, what progress 
would they not make ? But no one is willing to leave laud, 
at most one advances some paces ; but as soon as the sea 
is disturbed one fears, casts anchor, and often gives up the 
voyage. The love of the selfhood causes all these disorders. 
It is further of consequence here not to look to one's state, 
following the counsel of the Bridegroom to the bride : 
*' Turn your eyes from me, for they make me fly away ; " 
not only to avoid losing courage, but also because of the 
self-love, which is so rooted that the soul often discovers its 
life and the empire it would assume by a certain com- 
plaisance and preference for her state. Often, also, the idea 
one conceives of the grandeur of one's state makes one 
wish the same perfection in others. One conceives too 
low an idea of others ; one finds it a trouble to converse 
with unspiritual people. It is not the same with the soul 
thoroughly abandoned and dead ; she would rather converse 
with devils by the order of providence than converse with 
angels of her own choice. 

For this reason she knows not what to choose, neither 
state nor condition, however perfect they may be. She is 
content with everything she has; she keeps herself at peaco 
wherever she is placed, high or low, in one country or in 

314 MADAME GUYON. [Paut II. 

another ; all that she has is all that is needed for her 
to be fully content ; she could not be in trouble at the 
absence, nor rejoiced at the presence, of persons the most 
devoted to God, and who might seem most necessary to 
her, and in whom she has entire confidence ; because she 
is entirely satisfied, and she has all that is needed, though 
everything be wanting to her. It is this which makes her 
not seek to see people or to speak, but receive the pro- 
vidences both for the one and the other, without which 
there is always something of the human, however fair the 
pretext with which we cover ourselves. The soul feels very 
well that all which is done by choice and election, and not 
by providence, instead of aiding, hurts her, or at least 
brings her little fruit. 

But what is it which makes this soul so perfectly 
content ? She knows not. She is content without knowing 
the subject of her contentment, and without wishing to 
know it, but content in a way that is vast, immense, 
independent of external events ; more content in the 
humiliations of her own neediness and the rejection of all 
creatures in the order of providence, than upon the throne, 
by her own choice. If a sigh were needed to set her free 
from the most fearful place she would not give it. 

you alone who conduct these souls, and who can 
teach these ways, so self-annihilating, and so contrary to 
the ordinary spirit of devotion, full of itself and its own 
discoveries, conduct thus souls without number, that you 
may be loved purely ! These are the souls which alone 
love you as you wish to be loved. All other love, however 
great and ardent it may appear, is not PURE LOVE, but a 
love mingled with something of the selfhood. These souls 
can no longer of themselves practise austerities, nor desire 
them ; but they perform with indifference what they are 
directed to practise. They have nothing extraordinary on 
the outside, and their life is most common ; they do not 
think of humiliating themselves, letting themselves be such 


as they arc, for the state of annihilation in which they arc 
is below all humility. Such souls should not bo judged by 
those who are still in the state of perft-cting theinHi-lven 
through their exertions, for they would often take for pride 
the simplicity in which those persons, free from evcrythiuf; 
of the selfhood, speak of everything, and ui tliemHclves. 
But let them know it is not so : that these souls arc the 
delight of God, who says, " Ilis delight is to be with the 
children of men ; " that is to say, these souls quite childlike 
and innocent. They are very far from pride, being unable 
to attribute to themselves aught but nothingness and sin, 
and they are so one with God that they see only him, and 
all things in him. They would publish the graces of God 
with the same readiness as they would tell their own 
paltrinesses ; they tell both iudilTercntly, according as God 
allows them, and as may bo useful for the good of souls. 

Those reserves, so good and so holy at a time when our 
Lord consecrates by a profound silence all his graces and 
the troubles (as one may see he did in my case), would be 
an act of selfhood for the soul of which I am speaking, for 
she is above herself. "While the soul is still in the solitude 
of herself it is necessary she should be content with silence 
and repose ; but then it is necessary for her to pass beyond 
that, and so strongly raise herself iibovc herself that at 
last she loses herself in God, and therewith all things ; and 
it is then she no longer knows her virtues as virtues, but 
she has them all in God as from God, without reference or 
relation to herself. It is for this reason those who are .still 
in themselves ought not to measure the liberty of these 
souls, nor compare it with their own restricted action, though 
the latter be very virtuous and suitable to them ; but thty 
should understand that wliat makes the perfection of their 
state would be imperfect for the souls of which 1 am 

That which makes the perfection of one state always 
constitutes the imperfection and commencement of the 

.316 MADAME GUYON. [Part II. 

following state. It is here as in the degrees of the sciences ; 
ho who finishes a class and is perfect in it, is imperfect 
in that which succeeds. He must give up the way of 
acting which made him perfect in his class, to enter into 
another quite different. St. Paul so well says, " When I 
was a child, I spoke as a child, I acted as a child." And 
that was the perfection of the state of childhood, which has 
a hundred charms ; but when one is become a mature man 
things change their aspect. St. Paul speaks of it again in 
another way, when speaking of the law (which may also be 
applied to laws of perfection, that one imposes on himself) ; 
he says : " The law w\as our schoolmaster to bring us to 
Christ." That law, then, and that perfection which one 
imposes on himself, and which our Lord even makes us 
practise, is very necessary to get to Jesus Christ, but when 
Jesus Christ is become our hfe, the schoolmaster who has 
been so useful to us becomes useless ; and if we desired 
still to follow him, we should not sufficiently give ourselves 
up to be led by Jesus Christ, and we should never enter 
into the perfect liberty of the children of God, which is 
born from the Spirit of God. 

When we allow ourselves to be led by the Spirit of God, 
he makes us enter into the liberty of his children adopted 
in Jesus Christ and by Jesus Christ, for " where the Spirit 
of the Lord is there is liberty," because " he gives not his 
Spirit to us by measure ; " for those whom he has pre- 
destinated to be his free children, them he has called, and 
those whom he has called he has justified. It is, then, he 
who operates in them that righteousness which is con- 
formable to their call. But to what has he destined those 
cherished souls ? ** To be conformed to the image of his 
Son." Oh, it is here is the great secret of that call and 
that justification, and the reason why so few souls arrive at 
that state. It is because there one is predestinated to be 
conformed to the image of the Son of God. But some one 
will say. Are not all Christians called to be conformed to 


the image of tbo Son of God ? Yes, every one i.s culled to 
bo conformed to it in something, for if a Ciiristian did not 
bear on him tho image of Jesus Christ he would not be 
saved, since he is saved only by this character. But tho 
souls of which I speak are destined to boar Jesus Christ 
himself, and to be conformed to him in all, and tho more 
perfect their conformity, the more perfect are they. It 
will be seen in the se(iuel of what I havu to write, how it 
has pleased our Lord to make my soul conformed to 

It is in these souls that God engenders his Word, lie 
makes them bear tho inclinations of that same "Word, with- 
out the soul discovering in herself those same inclina- 
tions during a very long time. But when light is given 
either for speaking or for writing, the soul knows very well 
that as Jesus Christ has led a common, and a])parently 
natural life, without anything extraordinary, except at the 
close of his life, such a soul also has nothing extraordinary 
during a very long time. The guidance of providence 
blindly followed constitutes all her way and her life, becom- 
ing all to all, her heart daily becoming more vast to bear her 
neighbour, however faulty he may be : and she sees clearly 
that when she prefers the virtuous to the faulty, she com- 
mits a fault by preferring a certain sympathy to the order 
of God. Until one has arrived at this, ono is little suited 
for helping one's neighbour : it is only then one commences 
to aid him effectively. This is difficult, and one has trouble 
to accept it at first, because one regards this mode of acting 
as loss of time, defect, amusement ; but the soul in which 
Jesus Christ lives, and of which he is the way, the light, 
the truth, and the life, sees these things in a different 
manner. She no longer finds any creature antipathetic or 
difficult to bear ; she bears them through the heart of Jesus 

It is here commences the Apostolic life. But is every 
one called to this state? Very few, as far as I can 

318 MADAME GUYON. [Part II. 

understand, and even of the few who are called to it, few 
walk in it in true purity. The souls in passive illumination 
and extraordinary gifts, though holy and quite seraphic, 
do not enter into this way. There is a way of illumination 
— a holy life, w-here the creature appears quite admirable. 
As this life is more apparent, it is also the more esteemed 
by those who have not the purest lights. These persons 
have striking things in their life ; they have a fidelity and 
a courage which astonish, and it is this which wonderfully 
adorns the life of the saints. But the souls which walk 
in this other path are little known. God despoils them, 
weakens them, strips them naked bit by bit, so that, de- 
priving them of every support and every hope, they are 
obliged to lose themselves in him. They have nothing 
great which is apparent, hence it comes that the greater 
their interior is, the less they can speak of it, because (as 
one may remark from what has been said) for a very long 
time they can see there only want and poverty ; afterwards 
they no longer see themselves. The greatest saints, the 
most interior are those of whom people have spoken least. 
As to the Holy Virgin, it is true there was nothing more 
to be said, after saying she was the Mother of God, her 
maternity including all the possible perfection of a pure 
creature ; but look at St. Joseph, the Magdalen, St. Scho- 
lastica, and so many others — what is said of them ? 
Nothing at all. St. Joseph has passed a part of his life in 
carpentry. What an employment for the husband of the 
mother of a God ! Jesus Christ just the same. Oh, if I 
could express what I conceive of this state ! but I can only 
stammer. I have wandered from my narrative ; but I am 
not my own mistress. 




Being, as I have said, at the Ursuliues of Touon, after I 
had spoken to the Bishop of Geneva, and saw how ho 
changed as he was influenced by others, I wrote somo 
letters to him and to Father La Mothe ; but as I saw it 
was useless, and he was thereby more embittered, and the 
more I tried to clear up matters, the more trouble the 
ecclesiastic took to embroil them, I let things be, without 
further action. I saw the tempest about to break upon 
our heads without being able to prevent it. I had dreamed 
that I was drawing a cord which at lirst seemed of diamond, 
and afterwards appeared to me to be of iron, and at the 
same time seeing a terrible storm fall upon my head, I 
gave myself up to the mercy of the waves. I saw clearly 
the crosses which were springing up from every side, and 
my soul remained in a profound peace, waiting for tho 
blows which she could not avoid. I had not done the least 
thing to draw it upon me, and I watched the torrent rush- 
ing down without having contributed to the storm. As I 
saw I had not contributed to it, and that there was nothing 
for me to do but to suffer, I kept quiet, without troubling 
myself as to success. One day they came and told me that 
this ecclesiastic had again gained over the poor girl I much 
loved, and who had already cost me much ; at tho same 
time they gave me a means of hindering him, but this 
human mode of acting was repugnant to my inmost spirit, 
and those words, '* Except the Lord," etc., were suggested 

320 MADAME GUYOX. [Part II. 

to me. I sacrificed her as well as tbe rest to God. But our 
Lord, who had permitted this only to detach me from a 
love I had for her perfection, provided for the matter 
himself, and prevented her connecting herself with him in 
a manner the more admirable as it was more natural, and 
more contrary to their intentions. Afterwards God made 
this worthy girl sec that he had extricated her with a quite 
fatherly goodness. I did not conceal from her what she 
had cost me, for assuredly the case was such that I would 
not have felt so much the death of one of my children as 
her destruction. "While I was with her she was always 
vacillating, and one could not make sure of her, so that 
as regards her, one had to live by trust ; but — goodness 
and infinite power of my God, to save without us what we 
should lose without you ! — no sooner was I at a distance 
from her than she became steadfast. 

For me, there was hardly a day passed that they did 
not put upon me new insults, and make attacks quite un- 
expected. The New Catholics, on the report of the Bishop, 
the ecclesiastic, and the Sisters of Gex, stirred up against 
mo all people of piety. I was not much affected by that. If 
I could have been at all, it would have been because every- 
thing was thrown upon Father La Combe, although he 
was absent ; and they made use even of his absence, to 
destroy all the good he had done in the country by his 
missions and sermons, which was very great. The Devil 
gained much in this business. I could not, however, pity 
this good Father, remarking herein the conducting of God, 
who desired to annihilate him. At the commencement I 
committed faults by a too great anxiety and eagerness to 
justify him, conceiving it simple justice. I did not the 
same for myself, for I did not justify myself ; but our Lord 
made me understand I should do for the Father what I 
did for myself, and allow him to be destroyed and annihi- 
lated ; for thereby he would derive a far greater glory than 
he had done from all his reputation. 

Chap. IX.] AUTOBIOGRAPnY. .^21 

Every day they invented some now calumny; thcro 
was no trick or invention they did not use against me. 
They came to see me, to try and Hiirprific me in ray wordg, 
but God guarded me so well that they were thcmKelvea 
taken. I had no consolation from creatures, for the Sister 
who was in charge of my daughter became my greatcHt croBa 
She said I had come too late. There are persons who are 
only ruled by their lights, and when they do not see things 
succeed, as they judge only by the success, and do not 
like the affront of having their lights doubted, they seek 
elsewhere something to support themselves by. For me, 
having no light, I did not trouble myself al)Out success, 
and I found success enough when things tended to destroy 
us. On the other hand, the maid I had brought, and who 
remained with me, gave me very great troubles ; she was 
unhappy, and wished to return ; she opposed and con- 
demned me from morning to night, representing the wealth 
I had given up, and that I was useless there. She made rae 
bear all the ill-tempers her discontent gave birth to. Father 
La Mothe wrote me that I was rebelling against my Bishop, 
that I remained in bis diocese only to cause him trouble. 
Besides, I saw that there was nothing for me to do in this 
diocese as long as the Bishop should be opposed to me. I 
did what I could to win him, but it was impossible to 
succeed without entering into the engagement he desired, 
and that was impossible for me. This, joined to the defec- 
tive education of my daughter, sometimes threw my senses 
into agony; but the central depth of my soul was so 
tranquil that I could neither wish nor resolve on anything, 
letting myself be as though these things had no existence. 
When some little ray of hope came to me, it was at onco 
taken away, and despair constituted my strength. 

During this time Father La Combe was at Bome» 
where, far from being blamed, ho was received with so 
much honour, and his doctrine so esteemed that tbo 
Sacred Congregation did him the honour to take his views 

VOL. I. ^ 


on certaiu poiuts of doctrine, and found them so sound and 
clear that it followed them. "While he was at Rome the 
Sister would not look after my daughter, and when I 
undertook the care of her, she was offended ; so that I 
knew not what to do. On the one hand I did not wish to 
hurt her, and on the other I endured much in seeing my 
daughter as she was. I urgently entreated this Sister to 
look after her, and not to allow her to acquire bad habits ; 
but I could not even get her to promise me to exert herself. 
I thought when Father La Combo returned he would put 
everything to right, or would give me some consolation ; 
not that I wished for him, for I could neither be afflicted 
at his absence, nor wish for his return. Sometimes I was 
faithless enough to desire to examine myself, and see what 
I might wish, but I found nothing, not even to go to Geneva. 
I was like the mad people who know not what is fit for 

"When it was known at home that I was at the Ursu- 
lines, and had left Gex, and that I was much persecuted, 
M. de Monpezat, Archbishop of Sens, who had a great 
kindness for me, knowing that my sister, an Ursuline of his 
diocese, was obliged to go to the waters for a species of 
paralysis, gave her his authority to go there, and also to 
go into the diocese of Geneva, to remain with me at the 
"Ursulines, or to bring me back with her. On the other 
hand, the Ursulines of Tonon expressed a wish to adopt 
the constitutions of thoss of Paris, and that my sister 
should bring them. She came then, and God made use 
of her to bring me a maid whom he desired to give me 
of his own pleasure, to fashion in his mode, and to be 
suitable for me. My sister came to me with this good 
girl in the month of July, 1G82. Our Lord sent her 
to me quite at the right moment for teaching my daughter 
to read, and looking after her a little. I had already 
taught her so that she read even in Scripture, but during 
the time I had left her they had given her such a bad 

Chap. IX.] AUTOniOOUAPHY. 82S 

accent that it was piteous. My sister mended all that ; 
but if she procured me this advantage in the enrc of 
my daughter, slie caused me many crosses, for from 
the first she took a dislike to the Sister who looked after 
my daughter, and the Sister to her, so that they could 
not agree. I did what I could to reconcile them, hut 
besides that I could not succeed, the very care 1 took 
made my sister believe I had more alTection for that 
Sister than for her, which hurt her extremely ; althouf^h 
it was not at all the case, for i had much to suffer 
from her myself, of which I said nothing ; hut it grieved 
me to see a disturbance where I had tasted so profound 
a peace. The maid I had brought, and who was dis- 
contented with that Sister and with being there, because 
she wanted to return to her relatives, embroiled things 
still more. She made my sister share in her disgust. It 
is true my sister practised virtue, and endured certain 
things which seemed to outrage reason ; for she could 
not understand that, seeing she was a very aged Sister 
and a stranger, she ought to submit to a Sister still in 
noviciate, who was in her own House and of very humble 
origin. I made her sec what Jesus Christ had suffered. "What 
astonished me cxtremcl}' was, that I succeeded better with 
my sister, who was not at all spiritual, than with the other, 
who thought herself very exalted in gifts and illumination, 
and yet whom it was impossible to make change when she 
had once taken up an idea. 

I have learned, my God, from her, that it is not the 
greatest gifts which sanctify, if they are not accompanied 
by a profound humility, and that death to all things is 
infinitely more useful to us ; and this very girl, who believed 
herself at the height of perfection, has seen from the ex- 
periences which afterwards befell her, that she was very 
far from it. my God, how true it is that one may have 
your gifts and be yet very imperfect and full of self ; but 
bow necessary it is to be pure and small to pass into you, 

324 MADAME GUYON. [Part II. 

true Life ! Jesus Christ has told us with a sigh, " Oh, how 
narrow the gate that leads to life ! " Oh, how narrow is the 
gate which leads to that life in God, and how necessary 
it is to be small and stripped of all to pass by it ! But as 
soon as one has passed through this narrow door, which 
is nothing else than death to ourselves, what largeness 
one finds ! David said, my God, that you had placed 
him in a large place, and that you had saved him. Sal- 
vation is found in the loss of all things. " You have led 
me," he says, "into spacious places." "What are these 
spacious places if it is not yourself, Infinite Being, prin- 
ciple of all being, where all beings end? But in what 
manner, David, have you been led into these spacious 
places ? Through the mud, nothingness, elevation, and 
abasement. He says it : *' You have lifted me up to the 
clouds, then you have broken me altogether. I have been 
in a depth of mud, from which I could not get out. I have 
been reduced to nothingness, and I have not known it." 
He was ignorant of himself. Is it not said elsewhere, 
"I am destroyed"? It is, then, through ways so bare, 
so annihilating, that one finds this immense large- 
ness; it is through the "nothing" that one finds 
** the all" 

After Father La Combe arrived he came to see me, 
and wrote to the Bishop to know if he approved of my 
making use of him, and confessing to him as I had done 
before. The Bishop sent me word to do so, and thus I did 
it in all possible submissiveness. In his absence I always 
confessed to the confessor of the House. The first thing he 
said to me was that all his lights were deceptions, and 
that I might return. I did not know why he said this. 
He added that he could not see an opening to anything, 
and therefore it was not probable God had anything for 
me to do in that country. These words were the first 
greeting he gave me. They neither astonished me nor 
caused me any trouble, for it was a matter of indifference 


to me to bo good for anything, or not to ha ; that God 
wished to employ mo on anything for his glory, or that ho 
did not wish to employ me for anything — all was alike to 
me, whether he made use of me or of another. Whcroforo 
these words only confirmed me in my peace. What can a 
soul fear which wishes nothing, which can desire nothing '.' 
If she could have any pleasure, it would be to be the play- 
thing of providence. 

The Bishop of Geneva wrote to Father La Motho to 
engage him to cause me to return. Father La Motho sent 
me word of it, but the Bishop assured me that it was not 
BO. I did not know whom to believe. Wlun Father 
La Combe proposed to mo to return, I felt some shght 
repugnance in the senses, which did not last long. Tlio 
soul cannot but allow herself to be led by obedience, not 
that she regards obedience as a virtue, but it is that she 
can neither be otherwise, nor wish to do otherwise ; she 
allows herself to be drawn along without knowing why or 
how, as a person who should allow himself to be carried 
along by the current of a rapid river. She cannot appre- 
hend deception, nor even make a reflection thereon. 
Formerly it was by self-surrender, but in her present state 
it is without knowing or understanding what she docs, like 
a child whom its mother might hold over the waves of a 
disturbed sea, and who fears nothing, because it neither 
sees nor knows the danger ; or hke a madman who casts 
himself into the sea without fear of destroying himself. It 
is not that exactly, for to cast one's self is an *'uwii " action, 
which here the soul is without. She finds herself there, 
and she sleeps in the vessel without dreading the danger. 
It was a long time since any means of support had been 
sent me. Untroubled and without any anxiety for the 
future, unable to fear poverty and famine, I saw myself 
stripped of everything, unprovided for, and without 

The first Lent that I passed at the Ursulines I had 

326 MADAME GUYON. [Part II. 

three times a very painful affection of the eyes, for the 
same abscess that I had had before broke out afresh three 
times. The air and the badly shut room where I was, to- 
gether with the Lenten fare, contributed materially thereto. 
It is true that all this time I suffered very severe pains, 
my head was horribly swollen, and with that neither help 
nor consolation. But what am I saying ? My joy and my 
consolation, was it not in my pain and in the most strange 
desolation ? Yes, surely. It was a peculiar thing to see 
numbers of good souls who did not know me, love me and 
pity me, and all the rest animated against me like mad 
people, without knowing me, and without knowing why 
they were so. For the crown of my affliction my daughter 
fell dangerously ill. My sister had not yet come ; there 
was apparently no hope of her life, and then her mistress 
also fell ill. The doctors had exhausted their remedies. I 
saw everything we had hoped thereby overthrown ; never- 
theless, I could not suffer nor have any care for the future. 
My abandonment without abandonment devoured every- 

Amidst so many trials, which increased each day, and 
which, far from appearing on the decline, seemed only 
commencing — as it turned out, in fact — amidst such trials, 
I say, my soul continued in the same immobility. She de- 
sired neither succour nor assurance ; the abandonment of 
creatures, and even of God, constituted all my strength, 
without strength of my own. God, when you are the 
absolute master of a heart, it can have neither trouble nor 
anxiety ; it is you alone who fill all its desires. The heart 
which you fully possess has none, and it is so peaceable 
that peace is all its food. It seems that this soul is herself 
peace. St. Catherine of Genoa had experienced this when 
she said that she was so penetrated with peace that it went 
to the marrow of her bones. This peace itself, as I have 
already said, is quite different from that of previous times ; 
for formerly the peace was more savoury and more per- 

Chap. IX.] AUTOBIOOrvArilY. 327 

ccived, but here it is no longer perceived ; none the less, it 
is infinitely more extended, more stable, more at its Boiirce, 
since, as I have said, this peace is God himself. Oexpauno 
of the soul! wonderful vastness! Thou canst indeed 
comprehend, but of God alone wilt thou ever be com- 
prehended ! Love, though there should never bo other 
recompense for the little services we render than this fixed 
state, above all vicissitudes, is it not euougli ? The senses 
are sometimes like vagabond children which run about, 
but they do not trouble the central depth, which is quite 
annihilated, quite stripped, no longer hindered by anything, 
as it is no longer supported by anything. The way by 
which God here conducts the soul is so utterly different 
from what is ordinarily supposed, that unless God himself 
makes it known, it cannot be understood. 

When I speak of a state fixed and firm in the central 
depth, I do not pretend that one may no longer fall or 
stumble (which is true only of heaven) ; I call it permanent 
and fixed in relation to the states which have preceded, full 
as they are of vicissitudes and variations. Nor do I mean 
to exclude a state of suffering in the senses and the inferior 
part, or which comes from some superficial impurity, that 
remains to be cleansed, and that may be compared to gold 
which has been thoroughly purified in the substance, but 
which may contract some dirt on the outside. This gold 
no longer needs pm-ifying in the fire, for it has undergone 
all the radical purification that he who uses it thought 
proper for the use to which it is to be put ; but as it is 
tarnished outside, it sometimes needs to be cleaned 
externally. That was my then state. 

There is still a suftering in this state inflicted by Goil 
himself, and which can come only from him. All external 
conflicts are incapable of causing the least suffering m tin- 
centre, however light ; they only pass lightly and touch 
the skin. These souls can suffer no pains but what are 
inflicted by the hand of God, as was the case with Jesus 

328 MADAME GUYON. [Pabt II. 

Christ; no sufiferings but those God operates, either to 
make them conformable to him, or for the neighbour's 
sake, as I shall hereafter explain. The practice as from the 
selfhood of the least good deed, or resistance to anything 
God should wish of them, would be the source of terrible 
pains. But the self-surrendered soul, which does not 
resume her selfhood, has nothing to suffer in the state 
which she has here reached, either from men or devils, 
although they discharge on her all their rage. It is against 
Buch a soul that all hell is stirred up. All this, however, 
does not properly constitute suffering, and those enemies 
would have no power, if it was not given them from on 
high. The true suffering is the application of the hand of 
God as in Jesus Christ. The Father applied all the force 
of his arm to make him suffer. He bore the weight of all 
the avenging justice of a God, and it needed a God to bear 
the weight of a just and avenging God. It needs, there- 
fore, a soul transformed in God to bear the weight of Jesus 
Christ, Man-God, crushed by the weight of the justice of 
his Father. These are the souls which are destined to be 
victims of the justice of God, to bear all its weight, and to 
finish "what remains wanting of the suffering of Jesus 
Christ." But what was wanting to your suffering, my 
Lord? Has not all been finished? You have said it 
yourself. Oh, it was the extension of yom* passion in your 
members. The souls of which I speak bear very strong 
sufferings without the peace of their central depth being 
altered or interrupted in the very least, and that peace, 
however great, does not diminish anything of the force of 
the suffering ; for it is necessary to bear Jesus Christ, 
Man-God, the most suffering and the most happy of men, 
since he was God of glory, yet suffering. There may be 
at the same time perfect peace and contentment, and an 
excessive suffering. Jesus Christ in the garden is the 
expression of it, where he suffered excessively from the 
abandonment of God the Father, and the weight of the 


sins of all men. There are even Bufferings so excosBivo 
that the sensefl weep and cry, and dcpirc their deliverance, 
without, however, taking anything from that centrul depth 
of peace and unity with God's will, which is the greater as 
it is less perceived. 

330 MADAME GUYON. [Part II. 


My daughter recovered her health. I must tell how this 
happened. She had smallpox, and the purples. The}' 
brought a doctor from Geneva, who gave her up in despair. 
They made Father La Combe come in to take her con- 
fession ; he gave her his blessing, and at the same instant 
the smallpox and the purples disappeared, and the fever 
left her. The doctor, though a Protestant, offered to give 
a certificate of a miracle. But although my daughter was 
restored, my crosses were not lessened, owing to her bad 
education. The persecutions on the part of the New 
Catholics continued, and became even more violent, with- 
out my ceasing on that account to do them all the good I 
could. What caused me some pain was that the mistress 
of my daughter came often to converse with me. I saw 
so much imperfection in these conversations, although 
spiritual, that I could not avoid making it known to her, 
and as this hurt her, I was weak enough to be pained at 
paining her, and to continue out of mere complacency 
things which I saw to be very imperfect. 

Father La Combe introduced order in many things 
regarding my daughter ; but the mistress was so hurt that 
the friendship she had for me changed into coolness and 
distance. However, as she had grace, she readily got over 
it ; but her natural character carried her away. I told her 
my thoughts on the defects I perceived in her because I 

Chap. X.] AUTOBIOQRArilY. 891 

was ordered to do bo ; and although at the moment God 
enlightened her to see the truth of what I said, and that 
she was afterwards still more enlightened, it all tho .samo 
made her grow cool. Tho discussions between her and my 
sister became stronger and more bitter. Herein I udmircd 
the conduct of God and the cleverness ho gave my daughter, 
who was only six and a half years of age : she found out 
by her little attentions the means of pleasing them both, 
preferring to do her little exercises twice over so as to do 
them first with the one, then with the other. This did not 
last long, for as the mistress generally neglected her, and 
at one time did things, another time not, she was reduced 
to learning merely what my sister and I taught her. It is 
true that the vivacity of my sister is so excessive that it is 
diflicult without a special grace to get on with her ; but it 
seemed to me that she conquered herself in many things. 
Formerly I had difficulty to put up with her ways, but in 
the end I loved all in God. 

When I say that these difTerences caused me pain, it is 
a way of explaining myself, for I looked upon them, like the 
rest, as permitted by God; so that I was satisfied. Foruu-rly 
my greatest pain would have been to cause suffering to any 
one, but then I should have been as content in the order of 
God to be the cross of the whole world, as to be myself 
crucified by it. I had, however, a certain instinct to soften 
matters, and I did it as much as I could. You had given 
me, my God, a facility to bear the defects of my neigh- 
bour, and a great address for pleasing him, a compassion 
of his wretchedness which I had not previously. God, 
you alone can give this boundless charity. I bore more 
easily the very great defects of imperfect souls than certain 
defects, which did not appear to be anything, in tho souls 
which God wished to make perfect. I felt my heart enlarge 
in compassion for the former, and a certain lirmness 
towards the others, so as not to tolerate them in defects 
which are all the more dangerous as they are the less 

332 MADAME GUYON. [Pabt H. 

suspected, owing to their subtility. Although it seems my 
own abjectness ought to impose silence on me, I could not 
refrain from reproving these souls for their defects ; other- 
wise I suffered much, I have suffered not a little for the 
imperfections of certain souls which God made me feel, and 
the suffering of whose purification he imposed on me. I 
will soon tell something of it. The more eminent in grace 
the soul of which we are treating, the more closely united 
to me, the greater also is the weight and the suffering 
which I bear. I see their central depth and their defects 
(I speak of radical defects, for the others do not astonish 
me, nor even cause me any trouble) — I see them, I say, as 
if they were externally uncovered. This sight does not 
diminish the esteem I have for the person, but it makes me 
know what is wanting to him, and often engages me to 
tell him. 

I have no trouble in using complacence with imperfect 
persons : on the contrary, without knowing why, I am led 
to behave so with them, and I should feel guilty if I failed 
in it ; but with souls of grace I cannot maintain this mere 
human action, and I cannot endure long and frequent 
conversations. It is a thing which few people are capable 
of understanding, and which is little known. Spiritual 
persons say that these conversations are very useful. I 
think that is true at one time, not at another, and there 
is a time when they hurt, especially when it is by choice, 
our human inclination corrupting everything ; so that the 
same things which would be useful to us when God allows 
us to be led into them by his providence become defective 
when we do them of ourselves. This appears to me so 
clear that it seems to me if by obedience or order of pro- 
vidence I passed all the day with devils, I should be less 
wearied thereby than by being an hour with a spiritual 
person from human choice or inclination ; and this is so 
true that, however dead nature may appear when it makes 
choice of one person rather than another (because he 


pleases) to couvcrsc with unnccoKKarily, iljo soul per- 
ceives that nature has had a part in it, tliat she hoH Komc 
pain in separating from him, and that hIic woiUd rather br 
with this person than with another — a thing which in an 
act of selfhood, contrary to a supreme indifftrenco and 
total abandonment. When it is necessity or providence, 
any conformity or inclination we may have with it 
does no harm, for the order and will of God purify all 

Divine providence constitutes all the rule and guidance 
of a soul lost in God, and as such a soul can have no t-yo 
to herself either to regard herself, or to be on lier guard, 
she may be troubled from the fact of committing faults 
without being able either to foresee them, or to defend 
herself from them. ]>ut let her leave herself to bo led by 
providence at every moment, and she will find that, without 
thinking of it, she will perform everything well, and will 
have all that is necessary for her ; for God, to whom she 
has trusted herself, makes her do at each moment what he 
desires of her, and furnishes the suitable occasions for this. 
When I say that she will perform everything well, it Ih 
from God's point of view, who loves what is of his order 
iind his will, but not according to the idea of man, or of 
reason, even of that which is illuminated, for God conceals 
these persons from all eyes in order to keep them for 
himself. But whence comes it, then, that souls of this 
degree do not cease to commit faults ? It is that they arc 
not faithful in giving themselves up at the present moment. 
Often, even from wishing to be too faithful, you will see 
very advanced souls commit many faults, which they can 
neither foresee nor avoid. In truth, they cannot foresee 
them, and it would be a lack of fidelity for them to wish to 
do so; and as they are in a great forgetfulness of thcm- 
selves, neither can they avoid them. What then ? Is it 
that God deserts those souls who trust in him '? By no 
means ; God would sooner perform a miracle to hiudt-r 

334 MADAME GUYON. [Part II. 

them from falling, if they were so self-surrendered. But 
they all appear to be so. It is true that they are so as to 
the will of being so, but they arc not so as to the present 
moment; hence, being outside the order of God, they 
fall and fall again as long as they are outside this divine 
order, and as soon as they return to it, everything goes on 
very well. 

And assuredly if the souls of this degree were faithful 
enough to allow no moment of the order of God for them 
to escape, they would not fall in this way. This appears to 
me clearer than the day. For example, a bone dislocated 
and out of the place where the economy of divine wisdom 
had placed it, does not cease to pain until it is back again 
in its natural order. "Whence come so many troubles, so 
many conflicts ? It is that the soul has not been willing 
to remain in her place, nor to content herself with what 
she has and what happens to her from moment to moment. 
It is the same in the order of grace as in that of nature. 
Even the Devil would suffer more out of Hell against the 
order of God than in Hell. Hence it comes that there is 
mercy even in Hell ; and St. Catherine of Genoa asserts 
that if the soul dying in mortal sin did not find Hell, which 
is the proper place for her state, she would be in greater 
torments than those which she feels in that place, and it 
is this which causes her impetuosity to precipitate herself 
into it. 

If men knew this secret they would be fully content and 
satisfied. But, oh, too deplorable misfortune ! in place of 
being content with what one has, one is always wishing for 
what one has not. But when it pleases God to enlighten 
the soul on this, she commences to be in Paradise. What 
is it constitutes Paradise ? It is the order of God, which 
makes all the saints infinitely content, though very unequal 
in glory. Whence comes it that the poor, who want every- 
thing, are so content, and that kings, who have everything 
in abundance, are so unhappy ? It is that the man who 


knows not how to content himself with what he haB, will 
never bo without desires, and ho who desires anything will 
never bo content. 

All souls have desires more or less strong except tliOHc 
which are in the divine moment. There are even groat souls 
which only have them almost imperceptible ; others who 
have them so great that they are tlu- admiration of those 
who know them. Some languish upon thu earth because 
they burn to go to see God; others lung for sulTering — 
are consumed with an ardour for martyrdom ; others for 
the salvation of their neighbour. All this is very excellent ; 
but he who contents himself with tlie divinu moment, 
although exempt from all those desires, is infinitely more 
content, and glorifies God more. 

It is not that in the moment of sufTering, since it is 
then the order of God, the desire of what one has does 
not accompany the thing itself. It is written of Jesus 
Christ, when he drove out from the temple those who 
profaned it, " The zeal of your house has devoured me," 
and it was in that moment the order of God that those 
words should have their ellcct; for besides then, how 
many times had not Jesus Christ been at the temple 
without such desires? Does ho not say himself on 
different occasions that his hour was not yet come? 
Many saints, like St. Andrew, declare their desire for tlie 
Cross when they possess it. 

The saints in heaven always desire God and always 
possess him. It is not properly a desire of those things, 
it is an appetite, which the present good gives birth to, 
and which, far from causing pain and inquietude, augments 
the pleasure of the enjoyment. This desire is looked 
upon as a flight, or a step forward of the sjjirit. The 
desire of the angels is an advancement in God, whence it 
comes that they enjoy continually and ceaselessly advance 
in the enjoyment, discovering new beauties in God, 
which ravish them, without eternity being able ever to 

336 MADAME GUYON. [Part II. 

exhaust those treasures, ever new, of that beauty, ever 
ancient and ever new. They will still know what from 
the first they knew, and every instant there will be 
novelties which will charm, and w^ill make them enter 
into new enjoyments. This is what the desires of the 
angels mean. 

St. Catherine of Genoa asserts that a soul in purgatory 
could not desire her deliverance, for this would be an 
imperfection savouring of selfhood, of which these souls 
are not capable. They remain immersed in the divine 
order without being capable of reflecting on themselves. 
She, doubtless, means to speak of that desire which carries 
with it a reflection tainted by the selfhood, that regards 
the advantage of its own soul; this desire, being outside 
the divine order and disposition for those souls, would 
trouble their tranquillity, and place them in an actual 
imperfection of which they are absolutely incapable. But 
as to the radical instinct, which they have to return to 
their Centre, and which is in their nature, it is so strong, yet 
peaceful, that it would be capable of annihilating those 
souls if they were not sustained by a divine virtue. As to 
desires, taken as products of their will, they have none ; 
but the instinct of union with their Origin is so strong that 
it is this which constitutes their true torment, hindered as 
they are from following it by their imperfections. For the 
inclination of the soul to her Centre is so strong that 
all the impetuosities, which we see in other inanimate 
creatures to return to theirs, are not a shadow of the 
tendency the soul has to her Goal. The reason is to be 
found in the eminence of the Centre, which has in itself a 
quality the more attracting as it is more excellent. 

The excellence of God being infinite, it is easy to judge 
of the force of his attraction. The nobleness oi the soul 
which tends only to her elevation, causes her to have a 
very powerful momentum towards her Centre, and from 
this infinite attraction of God, as well as from the tendency 



of the soul to follow that centml attraction, one may 
judge of the pain of souls in purgatory, who aro arreBtnl 
more or less, according as the obstaclcB, which liiiuUr 
them from losing themselves in God, are more or K-.s 

This is also the pain of damnntinn to the hduls wlio 
are in llcll— a pain the greater as it is accompanied with 
despair of ever being able to be united to their Centre, tlic 
end of their creation; for eternally they will l>o attracted by 
God with an extreme violence, and repulsed by him with 
greater force. It is the severest torment of the damned— a 
torment inconceivable. 

The cause why we do not feel in this life this heavy 
weight that retards and that powerful attraction for our 
Centre, is to be found in the body, which, while amuKing 
itself with created objects, causes a diversion, and withdraws 
the attention of the soul, so that she does not feel that 
attracting virtue of the Centre, except by an inquietude 
that hinders her finding any repose on earth. A soul 
truly lost in God would sufTer all possible pains in peace, 
and without any reflection on herself, as well because she 
would be sunk in the order and the will of God, as because, 
being in the central repose, she could not sufTer inquietude ; 
which, however, does not prevent suffering in itself and 
very strong, just as perfect self-surrender does not hinder 
the suffering of souls in purgatory. I believe it is the 
same in purification in the other life as in suffering in this. 
There the souls let themselves be purified by God in perfect 
passivity, allowing the flames to do what God commands 
without self-regard or reflection. Here the souls lost in 
God allow themselves to be purified by God without 
putting a hand to it, allowing themselves to bo devoured 
by the eternal fire their faults cause them. -Vnd like as 
a soul in purgatory, when she has no longer anything to 
purify, suffers no longer in the flames, so when God by his 
divine activity has purified the defects of the creature, the 

VOL. I. 8 

338 MAD.OIE GUYON. [Part II., Chap. X. 

pain ceases, and the soul feels that she is restored to her 
place ; and as in purgatory souls suffer more or less, 
according as they have more or less to purify, so in this 
state the soul after her fall suffers more or less, according 
to the quality of the fault. I have terribly digressed. 

(End of year 1682.) 




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